Understanding Common Core

Pleasanton school district implementing new state standards

As the first month of the new year ends, the Pleasanton school district is continuing to fully implement the new Common Core State Standards.

As stated on the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, the standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career and life -- regardless of where they live.

"We in Pleasanton have been good at getting students college-accepted, but what our goal now is to take it to the other level ... college-accepted but really, truly college-ready," said Pleasanton special projects coordinator Lisa Hague.

The standards, adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia, are essentially benchmarks in mathematics and English language arts for what skills a student should have at each grade level.

While some praise the transition to Common Core, there are others who believe the standards are coming with challenges, such as the new teaching methods, the implementation process and worsening grades -- especially in mathematics, where school systems are seeing the biggest shift.

"The introduction of Common Core is overwhelming because it is just adding to the difficulty of these already hard classes," said Amador Valley High junior Pooja Kumar.

According to Kumar, during her Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC class, students sit with partners and collaborate.

"It is sometimes difficult because some students understand the material quicker but the majority of the students are confused," Kumar added.

That emphasis on collaboration is something new with the standards, according to Hague. "We sit, we talk, we bring new solutions to the table," she said.

District officials say they recognize that students, as well as parents, may be struggling with classwork or homework but urge them to be patient.

"It might take you a whole class period to figure out the whole problem's solution but we want to encourage that," said Nicole Steward, coordinator of communication and community engagement for the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD). "In the industry, you're not going to just get the answer. Your boss is going to say, 'Hey team, here's the problem. Get me a solution.'"

During a Common Core parent forum in November, representatives from Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) discussed the skills Fortune 500 companies are currently looking for in employees -- the top two being teamwork and problem solving, which helps explain the push for collaboration in Common Core learning.

"When you're working with different people, you're working with different levels of thinking ... you're getting new perspectives," said Odie Douglas, PUSD assistant superintendent of educational services.

Another aspect of Common Core where some students and parents struggle is the multiple mathematical methods being taught to come up with an answer. Parent critics argue that all these different strategies are making math way more complicated than it should be.

Hague agreed that this isn't "your mother's algebra," but she said Common Core aims to help students acquire a deeper understanding instead of teaching students to memorize a formula to get to the right answer.

"The process to get to the answer is equally important," she said.

The Common Core math standards identify eight mathematical practices that should be engaged in students K-12:

* Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

* Reason abstractly and quantitatively

* Construct viable argument and critique the reasoning of others

* Model with mathematics

* Use appropriate tools strategically

* Attend to precision

* Look for and make use of structure

* Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

"These practices ask students to go deeper with mathematical understanding versus just utilizing a trick," Hague said.

Math instructional coach Duane Habecker compared the practices to a soccer game saying: "If you go and watch a soccer game with 6-year-olds and then 16-year-olds, they're going to be different -- the level is going to be different. But they're playing the same game with the same rules with the same concepts. But every year kids are in soccer ... they're gaining more skills, they're going in depth."

Steward recognized that this "deeper, deeper" concept is a challenge with current high schoolers, saying, "They haven't had that, and now they're just getting into the deep end."

Douglas added that most students are at Level 1 and 2 depth of knowledge levels according to Dr. Norman L. Webb's Depth of Knowledge Guide.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1 asks students questions such as:

* Can you recall ...?

* What is the formula for...?

* Can you identify...?

Depth of Knowledge Level 2 asks:

* Can you explain how ... affected ...?

* How would you summarize...?

* How would you compare ...? Contrast ...?

Hague said standardized assessments tested students in these levels of thinking, so "even if our students are being found proficient and advanced, it was in Levels 1 and 2."

"We're trying to push kids' thinking to Level 3 and 4," Douglas added.

Concepts on these two levels include:

* How would you adapt ... to create a different...?

* Can you predict the outcome if ...?

* What information can you gather to support your idea about...?

* Design and conduct an experiment. Gather information to develop alternative explanations for the results of an experiment.

* Apply information from one text to another text to develop a persuasive argument.

Common Core math content

"Our (California) standards were already pretty rigorous," Steward said. "So the Common Core standards are similar to the previous standards, almost word for word."

For example, in California Department of Education "Crosswalk" Analyses, a math standard in geometry stated, "Students use trigonometric functions to solve for an unknown length of a side of a right triangle, given an angle and a length of a side.

The Common Core standard aligned to it states, "Explain and use the relationship between the sine and cosine of complementary angles; use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems."

Hague said some math standards have moved to different grade levels, such as operations and algebraic thinking found in California's old state standards for third grade now being partially found in Common Core standards for second grade.

"Yes, we have a lot to adjust to, but some states are seeing more significant shifts," she said.


Along with students being asked to think more critically, assessments will also be aligning to Common Core, which includes the two higher levels of thinking.

California has adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) -- officially named the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) -- to assess its students' academic performance.

Last spring, PUSD conducted a SBAC field test, a trial run focused on assessing the test-taking process for local students and teachers rather than tracking actual test results.

Twenty other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands conducted a field test for the SBAC as well.

ACOE provided data about the multi-state field test at the Common Core fair in January. The data showed 22% of 11th-graders scored at Level 3, which has been deemed "conditionally college-ready" by SBAC. The data also showed that 67% of 11th-graders were not college-ready, while 11% were college-ready.

This spring, Pleasanton students in third through eighth grades, as well as 11th-graders, will be taking the CAASPP during which their scores will count.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System also includes interim assessments which provide districts information about a student's progress throughout the year as well as to assess Common Core.

Districts can choose when the interim assessments are conducted, such as every 30, 40 or 60 days. According to Steward, PUSD has determined not to administer them for this year.

"The interim assessments will not provide us information early enough to act upon given their anticipated release dates," she said. "In order to prepare our third through eighth and 11th-grade students for SBAC they will be taking a practice SBAC test and benchmark assessments in English language arts and math during the next few months. Upon release of the interim assessments we will analyze and determine their viability for the future."

The SAT -- used for college admissions -- will also be aligning to Common Core in 2016.

The new standards and upcoming tests have some local high schoolers and parents worried about lowering grades.

"My child is now failing in math when she used to be good at it. She doesn't even know if she'll be accepted to her top college choice," an unidentified Pleasanton parent said during November's Common Core parent forum.

District officials say they understand the frustration coming from students and parents but want them to realize this push is also coming from the colleges and universities.

In a letter addressed to the California State Board of Education -- the University of California, California State University, California Community College, and Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities endorsed Common Core.

"We believe California's implementation of the Common Core standards and aligned assessments has the potential to dramatically improve college readiness and help close the preparation gap that exists for California students," the agencies wrote.

In an effort to ease students and parents worries, ACOE is hosting a Common Core Summit on Feb. 28 where a panel of university faculty will address what professors and admissions officers are looking for and the course options students have to build these skills besides AP Calculus.

Adoption and implementation

At Common Core parent meetings and school board meetings, parents have voiced their opinions about the implementation process -- or some asked "Why adopt the standards at all?"

"Districts were not able to say 'no.' States were but California opted in with a year of testing," said Steward.

Some states that did not adopt the standards include Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Alaska and Nebraska.

According to Indiana Department of Education executive director of communications David Galvin, Indiana adopted CCSS in 2010 and joined Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) -- the assessment element of Common Core.

Then, in 2013, the Indiana legislature wrote a law that directed its education department to develop and adopt new Indiana state standards and withdraw from PARCC.

"The more we got into it, the more we saw it was becoming a national movement," Indiana State Sen. Dennis Kruse said in a phone interview. "We wanted to be independent. In Indiana spirit as we say, 'We do things the Indiana way for the people of Indiana.'"

Kruse also pointed out that although Indiana has its own state standards, they are very much aligned to Common Core -- just without the 'Common Core' reference. This is also happening in Mississippi.

At January's Common Core fair, ACOE representative Jamie Marantz said that although California adopted the standards in 2010, districts didn't really receive direction until a couple years later.

"It was basically like 'This is your deadline, you as a district figure out how to do it,'" explained Steward.

PUSD board trustee Mark Miller said at a school board candidates forum last October that the implementation process has been rocky, but now has seen efforts from the district that aid in smoothing the transition.

"The amount of time and energy that has been spent implementing has been staggering, and should be appreciated," he added. "But I think this has been more difficult than anyone imagined."

PUSD used a three-year implementation plan, which district officials say has been looked at by other districts and even other states.

Pleasanton parents have also asked, "Why couldn't we roll out the implementation?"

"We can't wait," Douglas contended. "If we have a slower roll out, we'd have students taking assessments that don't understand how to take it. Scores would absolutely drop."

Steward added that districts didn't have the choice of when to begin the new assessments.

Hague recalled when the state standards changed in 1997, "We saw something very similar, and state test scores did not come back looking fabulous."

"It's going to look very different for awhile but it's going to improve every year," she said.

Support for teachers, parents, students

PUSD is providing as much support as it can to the community, district officials said.

Teachers are receiving support through staff development days and curriculum committee meetings where they are teaching each other and learning from one another.

While some parents are unsure of ways to support their children, district officials say the best thing families can do for them is to stay positive.

"If you're talking about Common Core in a negative way, our students are going to absorb that and also get frustrated with it," Steward said.

Hague advises parents to sit with their children and be patient as they go through this process.

"Have students talk through what they understand," she said. "If you've reached a point where you both don't understand it, write a letter to that teacher and let them know what you and your child aren't understanding."

In addition, because Common Core has become national, Steward said parents can search for some problems online and see resources from other states.

Gale Naylor, a math tutor whose child is a high school senior, said she attended January's Common Core forum to learn about how she can support her students.

"It's a change. It's going to take awhile and it's not going to be comfortable," Naylor said. "But it's a step in the right direction for our children."

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18 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

Common Core is an example of letting educational intellectuals replace common sense. I have watched the videos on Common Core and the math process is just nonsensical. It is far more complicated trying to understand their concept of "sharing" numbers than it is to simply memorize the multiplication table. And I have a message for Nicole Steward - I have been in the industry for 30 years and while we do use teamwork, a successful team is comprised of individuals who each have skills suited to solve problems. We don't just huddle and try to figure it out. We expect someone to have better math skills, and someone else to be a strategist or communicator. It is the combination of skills that makes a successful team.

7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2015 at 9:40 am

There are three of us in my family that understand calculus, and three who have difficulty with basic algebra. Does that mean that the other three will be limited in what the can take in college? Or, that the only option for the is a trade school?

Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 30, 2015 at 10:14 am

I think you have to make a distinction between Math and arithmetic, and concepts versus application. There seems to me to be room for the Common Core approach here, but not really at the expense of plain old fashion "drill and kill". The number of exposures to different material is crucial and varies with each student. Some need multiple exposures to the same type of skill and concept to master it's application and some need relatively few. Educators have a very tough challenge as do students.

8 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 30, 2015 at 10:14 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Wow, this article was a tough slog to get through and the whole time I could feel my blood pressure go up.

The creators and marketers of common core are going through a great deal of effort to tell us that this new standard is the end-all-be-all for curriculum; it is not.

On January 10th I received an email from the district that was an invitation to "CCSS Math Workshop and Instructional Materials Fair" with a byline that said "Join us for hands-on common core parent workshops!"

Let that sink in for a second...the district not only has to help the students understand Common Core, but it is so confusing that they have to instruct THE PARENTS!

I have heard from some that are close to the implementation that school performance has dropped significantly from the change and it will be very interesting to see how the test scores bare this out.

6 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 10:16 am

Understanding Common Confusion = PUSD failed, again.
Are you teaching our children to be good college students based on liberal academia input or are you preparing them for life!!? Are you trying to make scientists out of business majors!!? The "Boss" wants solutions and progress. Not group grope!

2 people like this
Posted by Merc
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 30, 2015 at 12:14 pm

What if some of the parents of non immunized kids would themselves have studied under common core? Would they have considered the whole as the sum of it's parts? Or is that too abstract? C'mon naysayers, exercise your brains. Teach your children alternative ways to think and maybe even delay Alzheimer's for yourselves.

9 people like this
Posted by mrsbob
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

It's a shame so many people are not open minded to change. Also very narrow minded on how EACH KID IS DIFFERENT!Common core gives the kids a chance of dealing with a problem a number of ways. What works for one may not work for another. But at least they all get to the answer the way that suits their understanding. Which then boosts their confidence which then helps them enjoy the subject. Which results in higher grades.
I keep reading 'Pleasanton people' but what about other 'Pleasanton people' that don't seemed to be heard that actually agree with common core or calendar changes. or most important the kids them selves? Yes jnr year & above haven't really got enough time to understand all this but with teacher training & support they'll be fine. Also it's a great idea to do classes for parents to help understand. Things move on. We need to move with them or get left behind. Like technology, it is changing all the time. We learn & adapt.

5 people like this
Posted by John Walker
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

The math standards are not the same as what we had prior to the mandate, and there are large holes in the curriculum. Trig has for all intensive purposes been eliminated as a sole course of study. Prime Factorization has been completely eliminated as well as many other basic fundamental concepts. Industry saying that teamwork and problem solving are keys to the future. Agreed, but it does not indicate that industry thinks that is more important that actually educating students. Math is a science and it has fundamental underlying principles that should be understood prior to moving to the next level. The soccer example is not applicable. If it is, then why bother with Trig and Pre-Calc. Just start teaching derivatives and integration, it is just a trick of the trade. You don't need to know the underlying principles just use the trick.

All of my money is being bet on the unproven, un-researched, built to fail SBAC test this spring. When the rubber meets the road it will be a train wreck in motion. The SBAC testing consortium has already released their projections. 60% of all students will be rated as below proficiency. With any luck the current legislation in the U.S. Senate solves the problem and gives back control of schools and curriculum to the states.

4 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I am actually one of the few who actually understands what they are trying to do and I do agree with much of Common Core. What I disagree with is how they implemented it. The implementation is a complete disaster and agree scores and grades have declined. I do think the district failed the students by implementing this much too quickly and in all grades. The high school math classes are a mess. They should have started with the younger grades and then transitioned. I can see why the Frosh and Soph classes have to start because the SAT is changing Spring of 2016 but they should have left Juniors and Seniors alone. The only reason they did it was because they are testing Juniors this year and I can't wait to see what those results come back with. I hope I am wrong and this will work but not super optimistic.

7 people like this
Posted by Sueme
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 4:48 pm

All I know is my middle schooler comes home and can't understand a new math concept. I explain it to her, using the methods I learned in school 40 years ago, and she understands. Then she says, "Mom, you should teach math. It is so much easier the way you explain it." Just because it is the latest, does not make it the greatest. This new curriculum stinks!

7 people like this
Posted by JustTheNumbers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Considering the diverseness of today's Pleasanton and how well educated the parents of the students are, with so many of them either work in Silicon Valley or the Lab, are we really saying all those different countries' math programs are inferior and we must now use a system developed by a small group of aspiring bureaucrats who couldn't make it in the private sector?

Unreal. Every other country is probably laughing at us right now and thanking us for giving them even more competitive advantage 6-12 years from now.

3 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


I'm taking it that your question "...are we really saying all those different countries' math programs are inferior and we must now use a system developed by a small group of aspiring bureaucrats who couldn't make it in the private sector?" is rhetorical, but I'll take a stab at an answer: Yes.

And I bet those who are singing the praises of CC will be strangely silent when the first scores are released.

Those other countries that teach traditional mathematics and arithmetic? They will still be kickin' our behinds 5-10 years from now.

6 people like this
Posted by just sayin'
a resident of Verona
on Jan 30, 2015 at 9:14 pm

"We in Pleasanton have been good at getting students college-accepted, but what our goal now is to take it to the other level ... college-accepted but really, truly college-ready," said Pleasanton special projects coordinator Lisa Hague.
Sad that PUSD has excluded a whole section of our student body, those that are not "college bound" but will become construction workers, plumbers, mechanics…people needed in a well rounded society.

Like this comment
Posted by TestData
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Am I hearing this right, that after a year of implementing CC, test scores should be the same? A new test, a new format, online would be perfected? And this will be the measurement that you will judging the district on?

A really quick search of just one PUSD school shows interesting data about the old test over time.

10 years ago:

Math- 61% of students were proficient or advanced
English- 71% were proficient or advanced

Last year:(same school)

Math- 88% of students were proficient or above
English- 90% were proficient or above

My kids struggled with CC math, but now they are doing fine. I appreciate watching how learning means improvement over time, not just the first time something is tried.

5 people like this
Posted by Marsha
a resident of California Somerset
on Jan 31, 2015 at 11:42 am

The Common Core math is a nightmare, especially for the upper level math students in high school. Besides the complete lack of organization in the sequence of material, there is the idea that the students learn from each other. So, they spend fifty minutes learning what they could be taught in five minutes.

This district, in implementing the Common Core last fall, hauled out the CPM program, used about 12 years ago in this district, and thrown out because it was a disaster. So, in mid-October, the district changed programs, decided to hand out text books, and tried to make up for two months of lost time.

The CPM program was so unpopular, that parents in such districts as Palo Alto and Los Gatos put up web sites in opposition to the insult that CPM was to serious students.

One of the parts about the Common Core that seems to escape the district is that while the upper students are supposed to teach the lower learners in each group, the fact is that the upper level learners need the grades, and will do the work to get it done.

The fact that it is not popular with many math teachers should have some weight in this district. Guess not! The only teacher I know (of) who likes it is a new teacher at Foothill, who should not be given tenure, and who does a terrible job teaching, at least her Pre-calc class.

Meanwhile, it does not serve the lower level learners, who are the focus the entire Common Core agenda. The lower level learners know they are behind, and not able to do the work, so their self-esteem suffers.

No one but those who think it is all right to lower the level to the lowest common denominator, will be happy with the Common Core and its agenda.

5 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jan 31, 2015 at 11:59 am

The new SAT test will be significantly dumbed down to accommodate the education our children will receive under the Common Core. The Washington Post has run,at least, two articles critical of the new test.

It will no longer contain the English Writing section, the essay will be optional, the math section will test only three concepts, and the Critical Reading part, perhaps the most significant dumbed down portion, will no longer focus on vocabulary, but will only have "vocabulary in context" questions. Can you figure out the meaning of this word from the sentence in which it appears?

The current Critical Reading Exam, is about one-third vocabulary, and more about analysis.

This is all about making everyone equal, and every one "college-ready." I shudder to think of what this will do to the level of students accepted as college freshmen, and the class "dumbing down" needed to keep these people in college, who have not had to strive to be qualified.

It will make it easier for those who do not prepare, to score on a higher level than they otherwise might. One of the purposes of the new test.

Other nations, particularity our enemies, are dancing in the streets over the Common Core, and the new test standards which will not reward hard work and effort.

Were it my child, I would have him or her take the present exam, through 2015. When people figure out the long term disasters of the Common Core, and the consequences of a significantly dumbed down SAT, it may be that future employers, and educators will label the tests as to date taken, and it may impact a student's resume.

Remember, the Common Core creates a national database where all the student's information is stored for government, schools, colleges, and employers to access.

5 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Over the four decades I have lived here, the parents of Pleasanton have made huge financial sacrifices to hire tutors for their children. And the district has taken the credit for those scores and results and district ratings. I notice it more here than with the parents in other districts, with whom I work and socialize.

Now, especially, with so many of our students tutored one-four times a week, the district will take credit for the work of tutors in teaching our children, and they will use those test results as proof of how great the Common Core is for our youth.

Example: Many parents in this district have turned to increased tutoring to help their children with Common Core Math. A disaster for our children,at all levels, but especially the high school.

Meanwhile, almost all the winners of national spelling bees, and local and national math competitions, are home schooled. Colleges actively recruit Homeschoolers because they do so well.

Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

"The new SAT test will be significantly dumbed down to accommodate the education our children will receive under the Common Core."

It didn't look "dumbed down" to me, at least based on the samples I saw at the recent seminar. It looked more complex -- at least the math questions did. There was more emphasis on word problems and multi-part problems. It seemed harder than the old test.

Maybe you mean the scope was narrower?

Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 12:56 pm


It is the same with private schools. Parents pay school tuition plus tutoring fees for private tutors.

The trouble with home schooling is that it really only works well if the parents are fairly well educated, and have the time to do it.

4 people like this
Posted by Edward
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 1:07 pm

My 5th grader hates common core. Repetitive, busy work and feels it is a total waste of her time. My kid loved math, really loved it. Now, this common core is sucking the life out of her, her words.

Like this comment
Posted by rotten core
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2015 at 1:09 pm

If you've not had an opportunity to view the 5 short videoclips about the problems with Common Core linked below (from an earlier PW post), I would encourage you to do so.

The planners of Common Core deliberately wanted the details of this program to be stealth. Please inform yourself.

These clips are very informative and unsettling, especially if you are an engaged caring parent.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 1:57 pm


Where did you get the idea that Common Core was "system developed by a small group of aspiring bureaucrats who couldn't make it in the private sector"?

Seems like the private sector are some of the biggest advocates. The US Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is strong supporter of Common Core.

2 people like this
Posted by rotten core
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 31, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Dear BobB,
Uhhh...please inform yourself.
The Chamber of Commerce promotes "cronyn" capitalism...not true free market capitalism. You know...the type of "cronyn capitalism" that Democrats and RINO Republicans (i.e. not true conservatives) luv.

Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 9:34 pm


I'm not familiar with his work.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by rotten core
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 1, 2015 at 6:13 am

My fault, BobB. I type too fast and should slow down. Should be "Crony" Capitalism, obviously.

However, if you care to read the following, this is a good article about the Chamber of Commerce and Crony Capitalism.

article >>> Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by JustTheNumbers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2015 at 6:26 pm

"Seems like the private sector are some of the biggest advocates. The US Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is strong supporter of Common Core."

When it comes to education of my children, I value the opinion from the US Chamber of Commerce as much as that of the UAW.

Chamber of Commerce is there to promote "commerce". If there is money to be made in tearing up the match education regardless of the results, they will be behind.

1 person likes this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Undoubtedly, there is something like "crony capitalism" going on with companies like AIG or Morgan Stanley. But to go from that to "a system developed by a small group of aspiring bureaucrats who couldn't make it in the private sector". No.

Great American companies like Intel Corporation, for instance, (and many more) support the new standards, are aren't anything like "crony capitalists".

Web Link

Don't believe everything you hear on the Mark Levin show.

Like this comment
Posted by JustTheNumbers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2015 at 11:30 pm

Bob, if you cannot connect the dots why companies like Intel might push for changes to OUR math education programs, you probably don't work in Silicon Valley.

The fact you immediately link crony capitalism to banks tells us a lot about you.

Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2015 at 7:59 am

AIG isn't a bank.

Your comments about Intel make no sense.

What are you talking about?

4 people like this
Posted by Bob M.
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Feb 2, 2015 at 7:42 pm

A suggestion would be if the school district and the teachers believe in Common Core so much, why don't they hold tutoring lessons after school at every level (elementary schools as well). This is already done at middle schools and high schools for various subjects. The only problem would be there would be so many students lined up for help they would be there all night, and then they would know how the parents feel.

Another option is to have them watch the instruction at home and they do all of the homework at school - where the teachers can help - again, they would see the struggles of the kids. Time for new approaches to fix these big issues.

4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2015 at 8:36 am

The biggest problem w common core was the implementation. NO BOOKS! The way PUSD decided to do a book pilot is just ridiculous and just plain sad. My kids had 3 and 4 books in one semester. The kids only had handouts to work with. There was no instruction and no examples for them to help. The administrators who chose this path should be old-fashioned fired!

It was made clear in many articles that the only reason SAT was being redone was because they were losing share to ACT. Since common core was being introduced I believe they jumped on the bandwagon and used it as a selling tool. Sadly the college board created math book, Soringboard, was the worst of the bunch my kids had to endure during the pilot. Again, administrators should be fired for this fiasco. When the pilot ended and our kids got the old book out and the teachers went back to lecturing the kids were very happy.

5 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 4, 2015 at 11:13 am

Common Core is a Joke!
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was supposedly developed with one goal in mind: to strengthen the United States’ global competitive advantage by rigorously educating the next generation.

It is unquestioned that Americans are falling behind their foreign counterparts in academics. U.S. students tested below average in math and only nudged in close to average in reading and science when compared to 34 other developed countries, according to the 2012 Program for International Students Assessment.

“To maintain America’s competitive edge, we need all of our students to be prepared and ready to compete with students from around the world,” then-Vermont Gov. and National Governors Association vice chair Jim Douglas (D) said at the announcement of Common Core in 2009.

Unfortunately, this visionary overhaul has burgeoned into a federal government power grab. In its current capacity, the standards may end up hurting our already failing education system and overlooking our children’s unique needs and the diversity of the country at large.


The Common Core lobbying push began in 2006, when NGA chair and then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano
(D) launched her Innovation America campaign. Napolitano’s goal was to “give governors

the tools they need to improve math and sci- ence education, better align postsecondary education systems with state economies, and develop regional innovation strategies.”

An ensuing task force composed of the NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the progressive educational group Achieve Inc. produced a 2008 report titled “Benchmark- ing Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World Class Education.” The writers urged state leaders to “upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.”

This same advisory group proceeded to jointly develop the standards known today as Common Core State Standards.

The testing rubric sets K-12 grade-specific goals for English, language arts, and math. In theory, these standards would en- sure that students in every state are reaching the same academic level. At the same time, teachers still have the freedom to craft lessons at will, as long as they include the material needed for students to pass the national benchmark. Regardless of where a family relocates, or what school system they transfer into, a student should be able to enter the academic setting with confidence that they can keep up Microsoft guru Bill Gates eventually became one of Common Core’s biggest champions after activists sold him on the idea in 2008. Gates then heavily funded the organizations that pushed the Common Core standards and those same organizations are now set to use Microsoft products for their digital learning programs.

“I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,” Gates wrote in a February 12, 2014 USA Today op-ed.

“The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years, except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.”

Initially, 45 states agreed to join the initiative in 2009. And in many respects, the program started off on the correct foot. It did not take long, however, for states to recognize the product’s false packaging and the potentially detrimental effects it would bring to their state.


“If you look at the history of Common Core, how it came to be, the pressure and the incentive that were put on states to adopt it, I think it’s easy to conclude that this was federally driven,” Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, tells Townhall.

Follow the money and you will find that the federal government is the biggest backer of Common Core.

“From the get-go, there were $4.35 billion dollars in Race to the Top grants offered up to states that adopted the standards,” Burke says.

President Obama’s 2009 law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funded $4.35 billion to the competitive grant program, Race to the Top. This program offered monetary incentives (which for all intents and purposes can be referred to as a bribe) to implement educational reform.

According to the program’s executive summary, one of the criteria for reform just so happens to be using a “common set of high-quality standards” that have been adopted by a “significant number of states.” The only standard that fulfills these criteria is Common Core.

In addition to the Race to the Top carrot, Obama also used a draconian No Child Left Behind stick to whack any states that dared to defy his Common Core commandment. Burke explains:

“There is a looming deadline in No Child Left Behind that states are facing in the 2014-15 school year. No Child Left Behind says that every child has to be proficient in reading and math, and that’s a wonderful goal, but states are nowhere near meeting that goal, and there are a cascade of sanctions that will fall down on states if they come up short.”

“So the Obama administration,” Burke continues, “comes along and says, ‘we’ll waive that requirement from you, and we’ll ostensibly provide you relief from No Child Left Behind, but again, if and only if you agree to adopt common standards and other reforms that the White House prefers.’”

The current administration’s ideology of progressive reform is at the heart of the federal entanglement, Burke explains.

“For conservatives, that’s at odds, both with the tenets of federalism and the extremely limited role, if any, that the federal government is supposed to play in education policy, and it’s at odds just with the practical nature of education financing.”

Having a strong nationalized education system is not even indicative of improved academic performance. For example, Canada, which landed more than 20 places ahead of the United States on the PISA scale, does not even have a centralized education department. Tax money for public education is administered via provinces and territories that work together with local school boards to decide on implementation. Creating yet another federally monitored program can only indefinitely confirm one fact: a large sum of taxpayer money will be consumed.

The United States already spends more than $11,000 on each student, per year, with few tangible benefits for the cost. At the same time the Slovak Republic (spending what amounts to $5,000 per student) has managed to score similarly to U.S. students academically, PISA found.

Aware of the nation’s growing anti-Washington sentiments, the standards were relentlessly marketed as voluntary and state-led. It was this very phrasing that lured lawmakers to agree to the scheme.


Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Turner (R) witnessed this selling point firsthand. Though not yet in the legislature at the time, Turner recalls the time when lawmakers agreed to the Common Core initiative:

“From what I understand everybody thought it was going to be this new era of education accountability and that we were going to have these minimum standards and that they are, quote on quote ‘locally derived.’ That is where Oklahoma, at the time and still, is ranked low compared to other states when it comes to a lot of different education standards. I’m sure a lot of lawmakers voted ‘yes,’ because they figured anything was better than what we had at the time.”

Oklahoma’s education ranking came in at only 43, when compared to other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit public policy organization. Despite having one of the poorest education rankings in the nation, lawmakers were quick to turn on Common Core when they learned more about it.

“The moment people began to see how many actual strings were involved, that’s when everything hit the fan,” Turner states. “The huge amount of outcry, you know, parents, teachers, community activists; they’re infuriated about the Common Core standards because it has completely robbed them of the ability to have any influence at all. And it’s completely re- written, not just the school curriculum, but it has also redone how teachers are evaluated, how we’re teaching to a test.” Common Core requires states to implement assessment tests using either the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Additionally, David Coleman, one of the standard’s lead writers, has more recently become president of College Board, the organization responsible for the SAT. Coleman proceeded to alter the SAT to align with Common Core. This means states, or even home-schooled students who remain out of the broad system, may find the test caters to students who have been raised on the standards.


Not everyone is as enthusiastic about this new stratagem. The California Teachers Association, for example, spoke out on their website against linking student achievement to testing and highlighted the hypocrisy the Obama administration has shown in backing this technique for learning assessment.

“During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama contended that teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests and that students deserve to learn in an individualized manner. ... The narrow content focus encourages teaching to the test, which artificially inflates test scores while simultaneously narrowing the curriculum taught in the classroom.”

Many education wonks have found the new curriculum only debatably superior to the previous standards of some states. Massachusetts, for instance, one of the nation’s strongest academic achievers, will undoubtedly be worse off with the adoption of Common Core.

The new standards in math, English, and language arts are also not making any significant gains toward international standards. A study conducted by the dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education found that Common Core is failing to live up to its promise.

“The Common Core’s shift in emphasis to higher-level thinking skills is not consistent with curricular standards in countries that currently outshine the U.S. in international assessments,” a summary of the study on UPenn’s website notes. “[P]laces like Finland, Japan, and Singapore don’t put nearly as much emphasis on higher-order skills as does the Common Core.”


Indiana became the first state to repeal the new testing standards and many states have since followed suit.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), originally a supporter of Common Core, quickly relinquished his views and rejected the standards when he became better acquainted with them.

“Let’s face it: centralized planning didn’t work in Russia, it’s not working with our health care system and it won’t work in education,” Jindal stated in May. “Education is best left to local control.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) also signed a bill to shirk the Common Core standards with overwhelming support from the state legislature (78-18).

“I have to give a lot of credit to colleagues, who, at the original time thought [Common Core] was a great idea,” Turner says. “It’s fantastic to see them come around and see what the actual fruit of their implementation is. They began to realize that where federal government giveth, federal government taketh and control.”

Common Core was supposed to bring accountability and education standards to make our kids brighter, but it did neither, Turner explains.

“It is nothing more than a failed experiment that has cost significant resources, both in man-power and in dollars, only to put us on a one-size fits all agenda. We should have been looking at home-grown standards that takes into consideration each community’s goals.”

The end product does not encourage innovation or skill- setup, it instills in children the school’s need to produce widgets, which fit into a common machine, Turner remarked.

Oklahoma, like the other states that have or are in the midst of rejecting Common Core, is working to create its own set of standards that will be unique to the children, the people, and the local economy.

The very name “Common Core” goes against the heart of America’s rich and diverse population, where each person is valued for their individualism and rare skill set.

“Our kids aren’t ‘common,’” Heritage’s Burke points out, “they are incredibly unique and we want to move towards an education system that is individualized and personalized.” •

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