To teach using proven methods that meet the needs of their students.
Georgia's Teacher Dropout Crisis- Why Teachers are not blaming the students or the parents, they are blaming the government.
Why are we giving up 100% or our authority for 5% of the funding?
I have been an elementary public school teacher in GA for 7 years but recently resigned after having to teach Common Core Standards. It became obvious in just the first year of implementing them in my classroom that it was hurting my students’ performance more than it was helping them. In addition, the state mandated standardized testing aligned with CC Standards was so high stakes that it drove the curriculum and learning pace in my classroom. This interfered with my ability to do what was best for my students. The result was unnecessary stress, anxiety, and loss of self esteem with almost all of the children in my class. I resigned because I could no longer in good conscience teach what I knew was often developmentally inappropriate and in an education system which focused most on assessing students by testing them on the standards instead of promoting and fostering a love of learning and meeting students diverse needs.
I want GA to stop using CCS for many reasons but First and foremost because:
Many of them are not age appropriate and are consequentially harmful to students
For example, in first grade Common Core Standards ask teachers to "develop" the following practices in their students:"reason abstractly" and "critique the reasoning of others". Although educational professionals know this isn't appropriate for k-3 students, the high stakes testing will assess FIRST GRADERS on this type of thinking. As a consequence, teachers will spend the year "pushing" their students to "develop" in ways that only age will allow them to develop!
Standards that are not age appropriate result in students feeling panicked, stressed, and "dumb" because they are being forced to do something that they are not developmentally ready for. In my classroom this stress was mutual no matter whether the students were high achievers or low achievers. To a teacher, this is a sure sign of borderline abuse and not meeting students' needs.
Another reason I object to Common Core is that there is no evidence that national standards increase student performance.
The current argument that is used in support of states adopting national standards is that if we set high standards on a national basis that all American students will consequentially achieve at high levels. However, as stated by Neal McCluskey (2010), "The scientific literature on national standards simply does not demonstrate that national standards drive superior performance" (pg. 12). McCluskey further explains that the research regarding national standards is "too thin to support any U.S. policy move in that direction. Therefore, the road to successful education reform appears to go in the opposite direction of greater top-down control" (McCluskey, 2010, pg. 12)
Since Common Core Standards were not piloted there’s been insufficient time to study them. We should not have blindly adopted them at the risk of our children suffering especially when there is lacking empirical evidence to support claims that they will improve educational outcomes.
I believe that legislators do not understand how standards are actually applied "in the trenches" and classroom level. They become a straight jacket because of the aligned high stakes testing. The overwhelming amount of content to be taught means that teachers will simply spend their time preparing students for a test. Therefore, standards by de facto equal curriculum. When teachers' job security and students' grade promotions depend on these high stakes test scores, "teaching to the test" will take place.
Lastly, there is not truly a need for national standards.
One perceived benefit of having national standards is that they would allow parents to more easily compare student performance between states. However, "...standardized testing ranked very low on the list of parental priorities: Student performance on standardized test scores is one of the least important pieces of information upon which parents base their decision regarding the private school to which parents send their children" (Bedrick, 2013). A recent study, conducted in Georgia in November 2013, that surveyed 754 low and middle income parents who participated in the Georgia GOAL scholarship program revealed this: When parents in Georgia have the power to choose which school for their child to attend, the following are their top three considerations :
1. "classroom size"-(as in student teacher ratio- smaller ratio preferred)
2. "whether the school was accredited"
3. "the curriculum and course descriptions"
So what is the better way? Restore control of educational standards back to the state level. Allow schools autonomy, because they can better respond to the needs of children and still allow parents the right to influence their education. In other words, get rid of crippling centralized government power!
Thank you for your consideration in this urgent matter which affects over 1.7 million k-12 Georgia students as well as future generations!
Abrams, S.E. (2011, January). The children must play. New Republic. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/82329/education-reform-Finland-US
Bedrick, J. (2010). New study explains how and why parents choose private schools. Cato Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/blog/new-study-explains-how-why-parents-choose-private-schools
McCluskey, N. (2010). Behind the curtain: Assessing the case for national curriculum standards. Cato Institute. Retrieved from http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa661.pdf
Swasey, C. (2013). Six things the U.S. department of education did to deprive your child of privacy. Education Without Representation. Retrieved from: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/
Link for 3rd Grade Common Core Reading Standards
Link for Common Core Copyright
Rebecca in person at the Augusta Listening Session
A Georgia Teacher Leaves Public School because of Common Core
Math Teachers Write to Governor Deal
October 17, 2013
Dear Governor Deal,
We are writing to you as math teachers. There have been many changes in mathematics education in recent years. We are concerned about the sudden switch from the Georgia Performance Math Standards to the Common Core Math Standards and the changes in testing and accountability. This is our second year of implementation. There are serious problems with the new standards and testing requirements.
1. Math content has been moved back one to two years.
2. Advanced students are not being challenged. The test and curriculum designers have provided tricky questions that have been shown to mainly measure IQ, but the actual math content of Common Core has been watered down.
3. Students in special education are being forced to learn specific grade level information that is not attainable based on their developmental level.
4. The standards include prescriptive teaching methods. It is not appropriate to include teaching methods with the math standards. This has caused confusion for students and parents.
5. The Common Core Standards for Math end with Algebra II. Our previous Georgia Performance Standards included Pre-Calculus. If we follow Common Core, our students will not be admitted to Georgia colleges such as Georgia Tech where not only Pre-Calculus, but Calculus is expected in high school.
6. The current rigid testing models with grade level expectations limit our brightest students and frustrate challenged learners.
7. Instead of criterion referenced tests that are curriculum based, we need math placement tests to determine instructional levels and document student growth.
8. If we continue to use Common Core in math, our students will fall behind students in other countries with higher standards.
These are only a few of the problems that are creating a frustrating learning environment for Georgia’s students. The only perceived benefit in adopting Common Core was coordination with other states. However, this does not apply to Georgia, one of the few states that chose to implement integrated Common Core rather than traditional Common Core.
Many of our best teachers are leaving the profession because of these changes. It is our hope that you will be able to address these concerns and move to exit Georgia from the Race to the Top grant program, Common Core Standards, and all criterion-based testing programs.
Georgia Mathematics Teachers
Georgia's own Meg Norris explains why she can't teach under Common Core
Read the letter she wrote to her students.
To My Students,...
I did not return to the classroom this year and I want to apologize. I am truly sorry for having left you. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I want you to understand why I left. It had nothing to do with you. I still love you and believe in you. You are still amazing and you can do anything you want to do. I did not give up on you. I left to fight for you.
I saw you struggling with Common Core skills. Even with the new curriculum from the district, no matter how I broke it down for you I could see you didn’t understand. I saw the frustration on your faces. And when time ran out and we had to take the county’s test (on the county’s schedule), I saw the tears roll from your eyes. You failed. I saw you missing school more days than normal. I saw you with long sleeves covering up the cutting scars on your arms. I saw how the sparkle in your eyes dimmed. I saw the small bald spot on your head where you had pulled out your hair. And it wasn’t just in my class. You hated going to math. You came early everyday for homework help, but it didn’t make any difference. You still could not understand.
I want you to know none of this is your fault. It is not you. I know the school, the county and the state call it “rigor.” That is a horrible word. Look it up in the dictionary for me. Rigor is for dead people. You are not failing because it is too hard. You are not failing because you are not working hard enough. You are not failing because of your teachers. You are failing because Common Core was not written by teachers. Common Core was not written to help you. Let me explain why this hurts you so much.
Your brain, as it develops, can only learn certain things at certain times. Common Core is trying to force you to learn things your brain is not ready to learn. Researchers for decades have found that the things Common Core requires you to do are impossible until you reach high school, at the earliest. No matter what your teachers do to get you to learn it, you aren’t going to be able to. There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain was designed perfectly. Common Core standards were not.
Common Core was written by businessmen trying to make money off of you. You and your learning are a grand experiment in corporate profits. If you fail at school, if your teachers fail to teach you, these corporations can sell more books, workbooks, tests, software and technology to schools and even to your parents to try at home. None of it will work. These same businessmen want to convince states to let them and their companies take over your schools. Your parent’s tax dollars would then go to these companies. Over $600 billion is spent on education every year in this country. This money should go to your education, not to private companies. It is very similar to what was done to prisons several years ago.
Common Core is the first time in the history of this country that a privately written and copyrighted plan has become public policy. There is no research to back it and it has never been tested. Politicians are pushing it because these corporations are giving them money to push it.
When I left I met with members of your Board of Education and told them what was happening. They ignored me. I went to the local newspaper and they ignored me too. When I spoke to the state Senate education committee they dismissed me as a political nut job. When I came back to chaperone your fall dance I was told I was “no longer one of you” and I could not come in because of my position on Common Core. Ghandi once said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” We will win. We will win for you and every student after you. This is not political. This is for the future leaders of our country. These corporations don’t want to teach you how to think.
It is time for you to talk to your parents. Help them understand that opting you out of state testing will protect your personal information as well as stop the data that is being used to unfairly judge you and your teachers. Schools where more than 80% of kids have been opted out are cancelling these stressful tests that measure nothing. There is a new test coming to replace the CRCT, which is why politicians like Governor Deal and Superintendent Barge want to keep Common Core. Have your parents demand a portfolio of your work be kept and that your hard work be used to decide if you should go on to the next grade, not a random test. Any test not written by and graded by your teachers should never be allowed in the classroom.
Please do not worry about me. I am strong and people have called me worse names and banned me from much better places. Standing up for what is right is not always the easy thing. I knew that when I left my classroom. I have 32,000 other teachers from all over the country who are standing with me. I have education experts and child psychologists standing with me. I have politicians standing with me. I have famous authors standing with me. And the group is growing.
Just this week I got an email from Judy Blume, author of famous children’s classics like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Forever, and Tiger Eyes. She shared with me that she was a horrible test-taker. She is very grateful that she is not in school taking the kinds of tests you are taking. Can you imagine how horrible it would be if our favorite authors gave up because they could not do well on standardized tests that meant nothing? I don’t want to find out.
Talk to your parents and let them know what is happening in your classrooms. Every time you take a test or a survey, tell your parents. Be brave and keep making me proud. You can be anything you want to be. I am always here for you.
Mrs. Meg Norris, Ed.S.
7th Grade (former) teacher
One Tired Teacher
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