The Basics of Understanding Common Core and its Effects


For the newcomer or the busy parent, it can be difficult to succinctly understand everything we are advocating for or objecting against.  You know something is wrong but it can be hard to put a finger on it sometimes. This post is for you!

Try to categorize issues into 4 Basic Areas:

  1. Standards
  2. Curriculum
  3. Assessments

    Dr. Christopher Tienken:
    The Assessment Landscape:
  4. Data Collection.

Then for each of these, there are issues of Process and Content.

So any issue that we find likely fits into one or more of the 8 sub-categories.

SUMMARY OF #1-3, Bill Gates said it best:
“Gates opens with CCSS as ‘not a curriculum’ and that CCSS does not ‘tell teachers how to teach.’ Nevertheless, according to his 2009 speech to legislators, Gates anticipates that CCSS will lead to curriculum and assessments that set teachers at the mercy of “market forces”:

‘When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces
 in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better.’ [Emphasis added.]
In his selling of CCSS, Gates proposes that “ordering” of standards has been a “problem.” Ordering of standards has nothing to do with the standards themselves. Moreover, at this point in his explanation, Gates assumes that “sameness”– all states’ having the same standards– automatically translates into “better.”


Who wrote the Standards?

In sum, 5 of the 15 individuals on the CCSS ELA work group have classroom experience teaching English. None was a classroom teacher in 2009. None taught elementary grades, special education, or ESL, and none hold certifications in these areas.

Five of the 15 CCSS ELA work group members also served on the CCSS math work group. Two are from Achieve; two, from ACT, and one, from College Board.

In sum, only 3 of the 15 individuals on the 2009 CCSS math work group held positions as classroom teachers of mathematics. None was a classroom teacher in 2009. None taught elementary or middle school mathematics. Three other members have other classroom teaching experience in biology, English, and social studies. None taught elementary school. None taught special education or was certified in special education or English as a Second Language (ESL).

Only one CCSS math work group member was not affiliated with an education company or nonprofit.

Onto the “other fourteen”– with some notable overlap in CCSS work group membership.

How did the process work for Race to the Top?

How much will the implementation costs be?

Fundamentals of Common Core Issues:
#1) Inappropriate and Non-College Ready Standards



“Smoking guns”:

  • Developmentally inappropriate material in K-3rd

  • The easy stuff gets made harder or multiple methods used when introducing a higher level topic is more appropriate and less boring.
  • Math standards that do not prepare a student for STEM much less a selective college.  The goal is more commonality and one size fits all to accommodate students who move across state lines.
  • Content Free ELA Standards. There may be skills but they are empty skill sets.

What are the major flaws in Common Core’s English language arts standards?

A. Most of Common Core’s reading standards are content-free skills.

B. Common Core’s ELA standards stress writing more than reading at every grade level.

C. Common Core’s writing standards are developmentally inappropriate at many grade levels and lack

coordination with its reading standards.

D. Common Core expects English teachers to spend at least half of their reading instructional time at every

grade level on informational texts.

E. Common Core reduces opportunities for students to develop critical thinking.

F. Common Core’s standards are not “fewer, clearer, and deeper;” they often bundle several objectives into one statement and call it one standard.

PROCESS  [think Funding/Development/Governance]**Can’t miss article: Common Core standards were created by two private trade associations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, financed largely by Gates and imposed on states with the lure of federal grants. Common Core creates a system of top-down education control designed to give students the minimum amount of education they need for community college or an entry-level job. The idea is to develop workers for the managed economy, not to educate citizens. Thus, companies such as Microsoft would have access to entry-level workers they wouldn’t have to train. The added benefit would be a reduced likelihood of developing independent-minded future competitors of these powerful companies. It’s 17th-century mercantilism with a modern twist. (Emphasis added)

*The smoking gun is: how can we have public standards that are owned by private trade organizations?*

Do we have to go to D.C. and knock on the doors of the NGA and beg them to change the standards that are developmentally inappropriate?

Food for Thought: “The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers hold the copyright on the Common Core State Standards. Does that mean states can’t change the Common Core?

Read and you decide:


In a word, yes — states can make changes to the Common Core. That’s according to a spokesman for Achieve, the education non-profit that helped develop the Common Core.

“States can do whatever they want and always have been able to,” writes Chad Colby in an email to StateImpact. “There is no limit to what changes, additions or subtractions a state wants to make.”

Colby says as a rule of thumb, states are encouraged to add no more than 15 percent to the standards. Otherwise, he says it would negate the “commonness” of the standards.

As for the copyright, the Common Core State Standards are held under a public license that gives states who fully adopt the standards broad permission to use and reprint them. Colby says the main reason for copyrighting the standards was to protect the rights of the states who developed them. He says it also helps protects against charges that the federal government had a hand in writing the Common Core.

“The copyright proves that the federal government does not own nor control the standards,” writes Colby.


But critics of the Common Core say the copyright limits the changes Indiana policymakers might make to change or improve the standards.

Indianapolis parent Erin Tuttle is co-founder of the group Hoosiers Against the Common Core. She helped lead the statehouse push to require a more formal review of the standards. She says the chief problem with nationally-crafted academic standards is thatIndiana can’t change them.

“You cannot change one word of the Common Core standards,” says Tuttle. “You can only add 15 percent. That is different than in the past, where if a standard was problematic, we could change it. Now we can’t do that. Our standards are adopted verbatim. They are copyrighted. There are licensing and uses requirements as part of that adoption.”

Colby says that’s not quite right — states can make subtractions and changes. But they do so at their own peril, as common assessments being developed by two national consortia test the Common Core as it’s written.”

Bingo!  It all comes down to the Assessments!

per Laura Chapman:

Rather than simply “correcting” the inadequate Common Core standards, they should be reconstructed and redesigned from the ground up.”

NO. No. No. They should be tossed–folded, stapled, mutilated, burned. They are based on lies about “college readiness,” and they are based on lies about “careers.” They are based on lies about being “state led.” They are based on lies about “international benchmarking.” They are based on phony baloney ideas about “text complexity,” and a one-size-fits-all notion of grade-to-grade “learning progressions” and on-time “mastery” right out of a factory model of education–no child left behind on the assembly line.

These standards are the production of Bill Gates, Inc…., aided by for-hire workers and federal appointees in USDE who are so dumb they think standards do not have implications for curriculum.

The process of generating the 1,620 standards (including parts a-e) was so uncoordinated that nobody seems to have noticed that the only topic in math taught at every grade is geometry, with not an ounce of supporting rationale for that emphasis.
On May 25, 2010, [then-director of education policy for the National Governors Association] Dane Linn wrote to all members of the Validation Committee asking them to review the final drafts of the standards and asking for a straight up or down vote by May 31st, as to whether each us would validate the standards. We were told that validating the proposals meant that we were agreeing that the standards were:

1) Reflective of the core knowledge and skills in ELA and mathematics that students need to be college- and career-ready
2) Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity
3) Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations
4) Informed by available research or evidence
5) The result of processes that reflect best practices for standards development
6) A solid starting point for adoption of cross state common core standards
7) A sound basis for eventual development of standards-based assessments

“”This initiative is a significant and historic opportunity for states to collectively accelerate and drive education reform so that all children graduate from high school ready for college, work and success in the global economy,” said Dane Linn, director of the NGA Center’s Education Division. “These standards will be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills.”
“It is time for us as states to challenge the education system and finally answer the question, “What will it take for every child to be successful?” stated Gene Wilhoit, executive director of CCSSO. “Fewer, clearer, and higher standards will help us get there.”

Fundamentals of Common Core Issues: #2) Influences on Curriculum

Great resource on curriculum options.

Math Example-  Engage NY

Interestingly, EngageNY was NOT written in New York.   The Department of Education in New York contracted the job out to a company called Common Core, Inc. located in Washington D.C.   It was funded by a national grant and once written it had to be made available to any and all whom wished to see it and use it. It basically went viral and has been “adopted” by many school districts throughout the United States.

Because of the wide spread use, Common Core, Inc. saw the mighty dollar sign.

$$$$$$$$. Pretty symbol, yes?

So… this same company started a new company called Eureka.   Eureka bought the full rights to the Common Core, Inc. written EngageNY. Here’s the problem. Because EngageNY was written so quickly, it was filled with errors.   Because it was never field tested, there were many lessons found to be lacking. Eureka, the same peeps, now had the time to go through every module and fine tune the program.   The original writing paid for by the benefits of a national grant gave the now “for profit” Eureka the luxury of time to correct the errors and to make subtle changes to the lessons.   How nice for school districts everywhere. They can now purchase this “comprehensive” program.

EngageNY = Eureka

Eureka = EngageNY

How’s that for the commutative property?

ELA Example- “Springboard” by The College Board

Here is another impact:  OER

Open Educational Resources Project
The results of the 2015 Washington K-12 OER Review are in!

As a part of the legislative mandate to identify and develop a library of openly licensed courseware aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington conducted a third review of OER in Spring 2015. For this review cycle, we evaluated full-course middle school (6th–8th grade) mathematics and units in 6th–8th grade English Language Arts. The review process made use of existing review instruments designed to gauge alignment with the CCSS. The results from this review are an extremely valuable tool as educators and content developers tap into the most powerful feature of OER – the ability to freely adapt and redistribute materials

Please visit our website to take a look at the individual resource results and get more information about the process:

For a link to the archived webinar announcing the review results, click here:…/9072937222907997186

Contact Information

Barbara Soots
Open Educational Resources Program Manager
Digital Learning Department
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Fundamentals of Common Core Issues: #3) Unfair, Invalid, Unreliable Assessments

*Five Things every legislator should know about high-stakes standardized testing.*
  1. These tests are untested.  Computer Adaptive Testing- never been tried in the history of the US on such a large scale at the elementary level.  Validation requires the test developer to show that the test actually measures what it claims to measure. This has never been done for these tests
  2. These tests don’t tell us where we can improve. Many assessments such as classroom and performance tests have diagnostic and instructional value but high-stakes standardized tests have no such value. Teachers and students are barred from seeing the direct results of the tests to discover what went wrong.
  3. The tests distort what and how teachers teach. What gets measured is what gets done, and not much else gets done. The tests cut out instruction in subjects not tested. Yet Teacher Evals will eventually be tied to these tests
  4. The tests have shown no positive results. After more than a decade of standards and testing accountability efforts there has been virtually no increase in achievement outcomes.
  5. The tests are incredibly costly in both time and money.
Also note that:  
 ~ The SBAC is a major tool for data collection and COLLECTS non cognitive (psychological) data as well as cognitive data. It doesn’t just appear to collect it. It DOES collect it!
~ The Smarter Balanced Assessment (the SBAC, which tests learning of the Common Core standards) is NOT standardized. Almost every child will answer a different set of questions. ~ The SBAC is entirely online. This means a) it can be changed at any time by the testing company, b) there is no pencil and paper option for students who require it, and c) there will likely be no method for parents to view their child’s test as we could with the MSP. ~ The SBAC (and PARCC) was funded by the federal government via the RTTT Grants. ~ The state has established a student database to which schools upload private data regularly without your permission. This data is also made accessible to the federal government and third parties like the Seattle Times without your permission or knowledge. ~ College entrance exams, like the SAT, have changed to align with the Common Core standards which have never been validated/tested.