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More on the Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some

December 2, 2013

I hesitate to publicly confess that I find reading tax forms interesting, but it is true– especially as concerns the many nonprofits that are imposing their wills upon the American classroom. The IRS 990 offers much information on a nonprofit in a concise format, not the least of which are a nonprofit’s salaried individuals, board members, primary expenses, donors, and solvency.

I have written a number of posts related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In this post, I examine a key organization in the creation of CCSS: Achieve, Inc. Whereas my reading Achieve’s tax documents served as the launch for this post, it certainly did not stop there.

Allow me to show you.

“State-led” Achieve

According to its website, Achieve, Inc., was founded in 1996 “by leading governors and business leaders.” The effort was well financed, with Achieve registering $2 million in total assets in 1997. By 2001, Achieve’s total assets increased to $9.4 million.

Note that the presence of “leading governors” on the Achieve, Inc., board allows one to call Achieve a “state-led” organization.

By the same token, one might also call Achieve a “business-led” organization since its board is also comprised of “business leaders.” However, calling Achieve “business-led” is not as effective a term as “state-led” for the promotion of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

In 2001, the Achieve board of directors included six governors and CEOs of six corporations.

All six corporations were connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group now known for its model legislation in favor of the privatization of public education and its decision to reverse its anti-CCSS stance.

Yep. It certainly serves pro-CCSS purposes to conceal the “business-led” element of the governor-CEO, Achieve hybrid.

Why, Achieve is nothing more than a little ALEC: Half electeds, half privatizers with the money to influence electeds.

Furthermore, “state led” is a manufactured term designed to falsely connote the “grass roots emergence” of CCSS.

CCSS is anything but.

Achieve and Its “Common Benchmarks”

In 1998, Achieve began benchmarking standards; in 2001, it joined Education Trust, the Fordham Institute, and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) referenced in the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governors and state superintendents signed as part of the Race to the Top (RTTT) application.

According to the Achieve, Inc., website, the purpose of ADP was “to identify the ‘must-have’ knowledge and skills most demanded by higher education and employers.”

It appears that the CCSS skeleton– the ADP benchmarking– was created in 2004, the direct result of a “groundbreaking report” from ADP:

2004: The American Diploma Project releases “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts.” This groundbreaking report – the result of over two years of research – identifies a common core of English and mathematics academic knowledge and skills, or “benchmarks,” that American high school graduates need for success in college and the workforce. Education Week later named “Ready or Not” one of the most 12 influential research studies.  [Emphasis added.]

“Over two years of research” might be sufficient to determine a set of benchmarked outcomes for high school graduates; however, such paltry research would be little more than a thrown-together, drive-thru empirical effort upon which to base a comprehensive set of K-12 English and math standards.

Perhaps this is why CCSS Validation Committee Member Sandra Stotsky never could seem to get anyone to produce the “research” upon which CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) is supposedly based. Perhaps the only “research” is that which is connected to ADP.

A methodical research effort for a set of K-12 standards should at least follow a cohort of students through the set of standards in question.

At least thirteen years is needed. Otherwise, one might argue that the research was hastily conducted in order to advance another agenda– such as the ASAP privatization of public education.

So, in 2004, Achieve, Inc., already had a set of “common expected outcomes for high school graduates.” The CCSS MOU refers to Achieve’s ADP. Thus, the framework for the “common standards” had already been determined.

Achieve would also be principally involved in translating ADP benchmarks into CCSS standards.

Classroom teachers were not included among those principally involved in the development of ADP benchmarks.

Neither would classroom teachers be among those at the CCSS development table.

Tim Pawlenty: “Leading” Both NGA and Achieve

In June 2008, National Governors Association (NGA) Chair and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty led the National Governors Symposium in North Carolina with former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. Among its determinations, the Symposium produced the following:

High, rigorous standards are the foundation of a strong education system. Content standards specify the knowledge and skills that students need at each grade level. These standards must be supported by an aligned and clearly articulated system of curriculum, assessments, teacher preparation and professional development, textbook selection and appropriate supports for students. 

As it happens, in 2008, Pawlenty was the vice-chair of the Achieve board of directors. In 2009, he became co-chair.

Also in 2009, Achieve received $20.9 million from the Gates Foundation; $2 million from the Carnegie Foundation, and a combined $2.6 million from five ALEC corporations (GE, Prudential, Nationwide, Lumina, and State Farm).

GE also donated $1 million to Achieve in 2010 and 2011.

Pawlenty represents a connection between both NGA and Achieve in this well-financed, “state-led” push for “common standards.” The Achieve website refers to “leading governors.” Pawlenty is apparently one of these.

How few governors does it take to “lead” a democracy right out of its own democratic processes?

Possibly only five– the number of governors on the board of Achieve in 2008– or seven– the number of governors on the Achieve board in 2009.

The CCSS MOU actually tells the two signators– the governor and state superintendent– that by signing, they are “agreeing to be state led.” Thus, “state led” means, “You will follow the lead of the ‘leading governors and business leaders.'”

And why are these governors and state superintendents signing this CCSS agreement?

For RTTT money– and not nearly enough to implement CCSS.

The Real CCSS Workers vs. The Window Dressing

According to Stotsky, NGA was reluctant to reveal the members of the Standards Work Groups. In July 2009, it did so. The members of the “work” groups chiefly represented three agencies: Achieve, ACT, and College Board:

The initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center and CCSSO [Council of State School Officers] in partnership with Achieve, Inc, ACT and the College Board. It builds directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensures that these standards can be internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries around the world. [Emphasis added.]

CCSS is not a set of standards that were negotiated by stakeholders. CCSS is the modular home of standards; its frame was prefabricated in 2004 by Achieve. The resulting “work groups” add two testing companies to the mix in order to “develop” standards based upon the ADP frame. Thus, CCSS development was chiefly a corporate enterprise. No wonder the reluctance to publicize work group membership.

The July 2009 NGA announcement also includes information on the feedback group membership, and it mentions the validation committee. These two groups are little more than window dressing. In short, it “looks good” for NGA and CCSSO to “involve experts.” However, the “experts” did not develop standards:

The final step in the development of these standards is the creation of an expert Validation Committee comprised of national and international experts on standards. This group will review the process and substance of the common core state standards to ensure they are research and evidence-based and will validate state adoption on the common core standards. Members of the committee will be selected by governors and chiefs of the participating states; nominations are forthcoming. [Emphasis added.]

Recall that Stotsky asked for the ELA research and never received it.

However, she did get the runaround.

Sue Pimentel

An interesting member of the CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) work group is Sue Pimentel. In 2006 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011, Achieve paid Pimentel’s company, Sue Pimentel, Inc., Hanover, NH 03755, for “consulting.” Pimentel’s presence on the CCSS ELA committee and her close relationship with Achieve raise questions about the exact process for selecting work group members (and who did the selecting). Given that Achieve has an established set of “common benchmarks” for framing CCSS dating back to 2004, and given the presence of those “leading governors” on Achieve’s board, one can conclude that there was no objective (much less publicized) means of selecting CCSS work groups.

Pimentel is considered “a chief architect” of Achieve’s ADP benchmarks.

Pimentel’s CCSS presence also provides a bridge between Achieve and the unidentified “partner” on the CCSS work groups: David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners (SAP).

In this brief Education Nation speech (http://vimeo.com/76725406) on the supposed development of CCSS, Pimentel is introduced as a “founding partner” of SAP, the national-standards-writing company founded by David Coleman and Jason Zimba. Pimentel’s introduction as an SAA “founding partner” contradicts the information released by the NGA on its work group composition. In that 2009 release, Coleman is identified as SAP “founder,” and Zimba, as SAP “co-founder.”  However, Pimentel is identified as being “co-founder” of StudentWorks and associated with Achieve.

The SAP website has recently rewritten its history to include Pimentel and to even overtly state that the three were “lead writers” in CCSS:

Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. 

SAP cannot rewrite all of its history and insert Pimentel. Consider this 2011 announcement of a CCSS presentation by Coleman:

David Coleman is founder and CEO of Student Achievement Partners, LLC, an organization that assembles leading thinkers and researchers to design actions to substantially improve student achievement. Most recently, David and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners played a lead role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy. [Emphasis added.]

No mention of “founding partner” Pimentel, though she was present for CCSS, and in a “lead role” as a CCSS ELA work group member– with her affiliation listed is as “co-founder” of  StandardsWork and as an ELA consultant with Achieve.

The Pimentel-SAP connection is also absent from this 2011 GE Foundation bio:

…Susan now works closely with fellow authors of the Common Core Standards David Coleman and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners in supporting the faithful implementation of the Common Core.

Before her work as a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy, Susan was a chief architect of the American Diploma Project Benchmarks designed to close the gap between high school demands and postsecondary expectations. Since 2007, Susan has served on the National Assessment Governing Board, an independent, bipartisan board that sets policy for the national assessment. In addition to several articles, Susan is co-author with Denis P. Doyle of the best-selling book and CD-ROM, Raising the Standard: An Eight-Step Action Guide For Schools and Communities. [Emphasis added.]

Again, no mention of Pimentel as a 2007 founding partner of SAP.

However, as previously noted, she was a “chief architect” of the ADP benchmarks– yet another place where classroom teachers were not.

Back to Pimentel and SAP:

Why alter history to include Pimentel as an SAP “founding partner”? Why not just state that she was with Achieve and later joined SAP?

I believe it is to give a female face a founding leadership role to a predominately-male-led CCSS effort. I think that declaring Pimentel as being associated with SAP is an effort to legitimize SAP’s (NGA-undeclared) place at the CCSS table. Pimentel is a female speaking to an audience from a profession that is primarily female, and that is good public relations for selling the CCSS product.

2011, Sue Pimentel, and Student Achievement Partners

In examining Pimentel’s consulting history with Achieve, I noticed that Pimentel is not listed as a consultant on Achieve’s 2010 990 (classed by the IRS as 2011 for tax year 07-01-10 to 06-30-11).

That same year, SAP “became” a nonprofit and filed a 990– in order to process a $4 million grant from the GE Foundation– the purpose of which is (of course) the advancement of CCSS:

Student Achievement Partners work is designed to ensure successful implementation of the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the country. Student Achievement Partners will work closely with teachers to develop tools that will help them be more effective. Student Achievement Partners will make all resources available at no cost to educators at our website: achievethecore.org.

“Tools” and “resources” are carefully chosen words. Sure sounds like SAP is offering the only missing piece in the standards–>curriculum–>assessment process that the NGA declared to be its full intention in June 2008: curriculum “assistance.”

And GE is willing to foot the bill so that SAP can offer this “help” for free.

(In 2011, SAP actually filed the 990 twice: Once on 01/17/13, with Amy Briggs listed as COO, and a second time, on 02/01/13, with Celeste Hogan listed as CFO. It appears that the second filing was necessary since Briggs neglected to sign the last page of the return.)

Pimentel’s Education Nation Speech

Throughout her Education Nation speech (http://vimeo.com/76725406), Pimentel refers to a standards-writing “we” whom she defines as six individuals, three in ELA and three in math. She continues by saying that these six individuals had advisory groups and that in the end, 48 states had “state teams of teachers” involved in CCSS.  Pimentel attempts to paint a picture of teachers nationwide coming together and exercising meaningful influence over CCSS development, but this directly contradicts the CCSS MOU and the designation of Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel as CCSS “lead writers.”

Pimentel insists that teachers were consulted and heard in the development of CCSS. However, any teachers involved in CCSS were clearly on the fringes of the CCSS process. Teachers could form state groups and advise all that they wanted. So what? Is this “48-state teacher ‘involvement'” supposed to somehow offset the inner-circle influence of NGA, Achieve, SAP, College Board, and ACT upon CCSS?

Please.

Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel are clearly three of the six CCSS “chief architects.” All three are supposedly “founding partners” of a national-standards-writing company offering a set of inflexible standards licensed by NGA and CCSSO and tied to corporately-created, high-stakes tests.

Whatever Happened to Those CCSS Math “Anchors”?

In her Education Nation speech, Pimentel refers to a deadline of November 2009 to produce standards, and she notes that these standards were poorly received. Based upon this timeline, she must have been referring to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS)– a smaller set of standards supposed to “anchor” the larger CCSS.

It seems that only the CCRS for math were made public; here are two drafts of the proposed math anchors, one from July 2009, and another, from Sept 2009.

The anchors were supposed to precede CCSS– in order to “anchor” CCSS. However, CCSS math has no anchors on the CCSS website.

It’s as though CCRS for math never happened.

In contrast, the CCSS website does include ELA anchors. However, the ELA anchors were not offered to the public for review.

So. The CCRS (anchors) for math were publicized and found wanting. Therefore, they were simply abandoned. End of discussion and lesson learned by the CCSS “lead architects”: No public comments allowed for the ELA anchors. Just post them.

Bringing It to a Close

The contents of this post reinforce the reality that CCSS is the result of a few attempting to impose a manufactured standardization onto the American classroom. At the heart of CCSS are a handful of governors, millions in philanthropic and corporate dollars, and a few well-positioned education entrepreneurs handed the impressive title of “lead architect.” The democratic process is allowed entrance into this exclusive club, but only for show. The place for democracy in CCSS development is standing room only, and that near the exit.

Fortunately, democracy gets edgy when relegated to the cheap seats. Achieve, NGA, Pimentel, Pawlenty, and other CCSS peddlers might deliver their best sales pitches; however, the truth is that CCSS is in trouble in statehouses and boardrooms across the country.

Future generations of educators will study CCSS as a colossal education blunder.

Names like Achieve, NGA, and SAP will be forever connected to the CCSS humiliation.

From → ALEC, Common Core, Gates

57 Comments
  1. Laura h. Chapman permalink

    Achieve maintains publicity for its initiatives, including the CCSS, in many ways. Two of these are illustrative.
    The first is a website operated with the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and National Center for Educational Accountability (see Note 5). The site helps to mobilize other business groups in shaping educational policies. The Business Roundtable is comprised of CEOs of leading U.S. companies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the major lobby for business interests.. Other organizations tapped for support include: The Business-Higher Education Forum (policy in university settings); The Business Coalition for Student Achievement (federal legislation backing standards-based, performance-driven K-12 education); The Committee for Economic Development (provides research for K-12 and higher education policy); The National Center for Educational Accountability (publicity for comparative performance data in public education through business-led nonprofit organizations); and Partnership for 21st Century Skills a lobby for the tech industry with “pay-to-play” partners. The Achieve website also includes a portal to help businesses “make better and more effective investments in America’s public schools.” See http://www.biztools4schools.com/national_business_led_organizations
    Achieve operates a parallel website, Post-Secondary Connection, supported by the Lumina Foundation, for its higher education efforts. These efforts seek to: (a) align K-12 standards with college and career readiness; (b) increase dual enrollment in high school and college courses; (c) track success in entry-level college courses and “quality jobs;” (d) link financial aid and college admission to college-readiness; and (e) track students’ preparation for college and timely completion of a degree. Key collaborators on Achieve’s higher education agenda are: The American Council on Education (administrators of largest U.S. accredited degree-granting institutions); The Association of American Colleges and Universities (represents more than 1,150 accredited colleges and universities); The National Association of System Heads (CEOs of the 52 public higher education systems); The State Higher Education Executive Officers (CEOs of 28 statewide boards of higher education). See http://www.postsecconnect.org/collaboration-college-readiness
    Anyone who thinks the CCSS is a grassroots state-led effort is mistaken. The project morphed from trying to make shove college introductory course content down to grades 9 and 10. The lead writers had no concept of early childhood and elementary education. The National Council of Teachers of English was “consulted” after the standards were written. THat organization saw through the farce of the “research” that the CCSS tried to present. SEE Williams, J. (2010, March 10). An open letter to NCTE members about the release of the public draft of the Common Core State Standards for K-12 English language arts. Re-trieved January, 2011 from http://www.ncte.org/standards/commoncore

  2. Chriss permalink

    The link of these groups to those who want to privatize education is curious. The Pioneer Foundation who has the same expressed purpose are the ones leading the anti CCSS movement. Are these competing private interests?

    • Good question, Chriss. Even within ALEC, membership was divided regarding CCSS.

      • A quick question: has David Coleman or Achieve ever modified their assertion that the Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked?

      • Not that I know of, Dan.

  3. Reblogged this on Saint Simon Common Core Information and commented:
    Interesting reading on Common Core, Achieve, Inc and more.

  4. Love reading your posts!

  5. Sandra Stotsky permalink

    Deutsch29 has produced an excellent piece of work. Let me add a few more details and areas for further inquiry. First, during 2007-2008, Sue Pimentel and I worked together in producing the TX 2008 ELA standards. At the time, she was working under a contract for Barbara Davidson of StandardsWork, the organization that held the contract with the TX BoE (as I understood it). I received a consulting fee from StandardsWork (I no longer recall for how much) for working with Sue, who had insisted she could not do the job without my help. I had been part of the ELA advisory committee working on Achieve’s high school exit standards for ELA in 2003-2004. She more or less moderated the group. I would not refer to her as the author. I was among the chief contributors to this set of standards (Mark Bauerlein was on this committee, too, by the way, as was Sheila Byrd (Carmichael)). I continued helping with the final editing until the very end. Sue was very limited in what she could do since she had no teaching experience in K-12 and to this day has never taught literature (a lack of experience similarly plaguing David Coleman, who also doesn’t understand the K-12 ELA curriculum or the reading research for K-6).

    In order to understand why CCSSI couldn’t rely on Achieve’s math standards (and put Zimba, McCallum, and Daro in charge of writing up a different version through the grades), one needs to look at its Algebra II test standards developed several years later. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2008) looked at the content of this test, comparing it to several other sets of high school algebra standards/objectives. This comparison can be seen in the Task Group Report on Conceptual Knowledge and Skills, still on the USED website. (Go to NMAP report first.) These Algebra II test standards were a reasonably tough core and about 13 states at the time piloted them. Most kids who took it flunked. CCSSI wasn’t interested in a real Algebra II set of standards. Read Milgram’s account for what happened after he saw, in 2009 (as a member of the Validation Committee) the first draft of the grade-level math standards–ending up with about Algebra I as the end of high school math (plus some electives).

    In my opinion, Achieve was bought out by Gates (and given a big role in the CCSSI) because there were other forces (allied to Gates–bring in Marc Tucker here, possibly) who didn’t want a real Algebra II set of assessment standards or any preparation for STEM in the CCSSI standards. That story has yet to be flushed out.

    • Sandra, I appreciate the additional information you have included here.

      Thank you for your work in blowing the whistle on this “state-led” sham.

      • Sandra Stotsky permalink

        Here is the link to that National Mathematics Advisory Panel task group report. See pp. 26 on to understand why Achieve’s Algebra II test standards/topics were not wanted by the forces that took control behind the scenes of Common Core’s math standards. The latter wanted nothing to do with what the NMAP had indicated were the major topics of high school algebra. The two math standards writers with Ph.D.s went along, it seems, even though they obviously knew better.

        The professional/ethical issue is not putting standards for these topics for advanced math coursework leading to STEM in a document purporting to be a set of math standards for K-12. The two Ph.D.s had to have known they were crippling not only advanced math courses in high school, but also advanced science courses. Why did they willingly go along and let their names be used for a set of K-12 math standards that crippled preparation for a STEM career?

        http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/conceptual-knowledge.pdf

    • stephenwv permalink

      Regarding Gates/Microsoft involvement in low math CC standards, look at the history of business/government/employment link. STEM workers have been recruited overseas for decades. Businesses must “prove” they are unable to find Americans to fill positions. They must “show they have advertised” for positions and were unable to fill the positions.

      What has been done is some, but poor, advertising, for positions with advertised salary insufficient to attract good American workers. The government regulators looked the other way. The real world result for decades has been, green cards were allowed attracting foreigners at the “insufficient salary” thus depressing wages and boosting profits. This makes it less desirable for American students to pursue STEM careers since the market place in the U.S. was supplied with unlimited lower cost labor from especially India and China.

      All that makes it desirable for fewer Americans skilled in what would otherwise be much higher paying jobs, and more lower skilled workers for clerical and computer operator positions of the 21st century jobs. Thus lower math standards are required but making sure those that might not reach even those lower standards will get there in large numbers to keep those wages low enough also. After all if all Americans could demand higher wages, even more foreigners would be needed to keep wages low and profits high.

      Americans, without sufficient skills to be paid more, and STEM foreigners willing to work for less than Americans, due to what would be available in their home countries. Thus we now see large numbers of foreign STEM – doctors, scientists, programmers, even CPA’s from foreign countries due to the decades of depressed wages begun to a great extent by Microsoft in the 70’s, and the resulting disinterest of American students to pursue wages that were not growing as they should have been in the STEM areas, and foreign students seeing their ticket out of poverty to America through the STEMs.

      Green cards are the way to depress wages at highly skilled positions while illegal immigration depresses wages at the non STEM positions. It is all about basic economics of supply and demand. A supply of too many workers crates a demand for lower wages. Thus profits go to the corporate executives and stockholders rather than higher wages if there were a limited supply of workers. Hence the income gap. CCSS promotes that continuation.

      There is one additional view. The progressive view. Lower CC standards make it easier to achieve the status quo in education. Lower bar for the higher achievers, higher bar for the lower achievers. The problem we are seeing is the other progressive area of government subsidies whereby it is becoming as profitable to not work as it is to work. But then in his 2012 State of the Union Address President Obama did promise to “make American workers competitive with foreign workers.” On this path it will not be long before American wages are on par with India, China and others.

  6. Many thanks to Mercedes and Sandra Stotsky for your work in exposing the sham of the CC$$. As a retired teacher of the deaf I am especially concerned about the lack of input to the standards from people who understand child development and language development, as well as literacy development. The link http://www.ncte.org/standards/commoncore is no longer active. Is there another way to access this? I’m very curious about it.

  7. Thanks for the reference to the Pimentel video on the Common Core development process, Mercedes. I have to disagree with your skeptical response, however. Here is my post on that video together with the story of New Hampshire’s participation in the CCSS development process. Teacher involvement looks pretty real to me.

    • You were on the fringes according to the contract signed for RTTT funding and according to CCSS history with NGA.

      Teachers did not directly affect CCSS. They did not directly add any to it, and they cannot now modify it.

      If New Hampshire wants it, good for NH.

      –M

      • “Teachers did not directly affect CCSS?” So you have no real response to the folks who were directly involved and saw the impact of their participation in the process except to say, “you were on the fringe?”

        Are you saying that Achieve went to all that trouble to dupe them? Or they are just not telling the truth?

      • Yep.

        Here’s the true test:

        Could teachers vote to not adopt CCSS in the first place?

        No. It had been decided. Teachers were not “lead architects” and we’re not even in the work groups.

        Window dressing.

    • Mr. Duncan I suggest you do some research on the Delphi Technique. It is a widely used technique. I was trained in the technique when I worked for a large corporation. It basically means you are trained in the art of making people feel like the pre-determined decision was theirs. When in fact they had no real input or bearing on the outcome. It was all pre-determined. Sandra Stotsky was THERE and has been THERE for years. I would take her word over your understanding any day. TN had people on the feedback committee…….which is probably what your teachers participated and Dr. Stotsky will tell you their input was ignored. Smoke and mirrors or as I stated………..you were Delphi’d

    • I don’t think it is necessary to prove that no teachers participated in the process. The problem with the ELA/Literacy standards is quality, and a part of the problem is inconsistency. The overall scope is much more narrow than the international peers the standards were supposed to be benchmarked against, but within those confines, all sorts of stuff is jammed into the rigid anchor standard format, some of it I can easily imagine was in response to teacher feedback.

      • Yes, I agree, Tom. It’s useful to debate the intrinsic qualities of the standards, as you are doing here. The question of whether teachers participated is more relevant once you decide the standards are lacking somehow and then say, “Oh, if teachers were involved, that wouldn’t have happened.” In this case, though, teachers did participate and you say you can imagine that they helped lead it astray, if I’m understanding you.

        On the substance of what you’re saying, I wouldn’t offer an alternative analysis – at this point, at least. Our standards may be more narrow. That could be a kind of nuanced discussion. But aren’t they better than the random, frequently poor quality, standards we had?

      • I don’t want to be too hard on the teacher input here, it is more of a process and project management issue. You end up with a lot of badly integrated ideas. Just as one example, the research on disciplinary literacy says that in history one needs to consider the background of the author. This could not directly be added to the CC standards because it doesn’t fit any of the anchor standards or the overall philosophy of the standards, so we end up with 10 literacy standards for H/SS which dance around arguably the most important point. That’s not the fault of the person whose idea it was, it is a process problem.

        I think there is a lot more room for discussion of ADP in particular in the context of both the earlier state standards and CC. You can say we had random, poor quality standards before, but most of them were aligned with Achieve’s ADP standards. New Hampshire has an ADP benchmarking document for the NECAP ELA GSE’s on their website which finds them to be closely aligned. The large majority of states had signed onto the ADP project and aligned their standards to it. In short, if the previous standards were bad, the first people to blame are… Achieve.

        Common Core ELA (I only know the ELA side) is also pretty well aligned with ADP, they’re both Achieve products, right? Why should the be different? There are differences though — I think ADP is a stronger, better organized, more complete set of ELA standards. Partly because it was less of a rush job with fewer external political pressures. As far as I know the differences between the two have never been explained by Achieve. There is no reason to think the differences are based on any particular research.

        It is all a tangled mess at this point.

      • I appreciate the thoughtful references to NH GLE’s and do take your point. There’s no way to avoid the fact that the CCSS development process resulted in compromises. How else could such a process conclude at all? But, (virtually) no one in NH would make the case that CCSS is not an improvement over the GLE’s. For example, here’s the GLE:

        Demonstrate initial understanding of elements of literary texts by identifying, describing, or making logical predictions about character (such as protagonist or antagonist), setting, problem/solution, or plots/subplots, as appropriate to text; or identifying any significant changes in character, relationships, or setting over time; or identifying rising action, climax, or falling action.

        And here’s the equivalent CCSS:

        Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

        I think that’s better.

      • Well, no, those aren’t the two standards you’d compare.

        The equivalent characterization GLE is:

        R–HS–5.2 Examining characterization (e.g., stereotype, antagonist, protagonist), motivation, or interactions (including relationships), citing thoughts, words, or actions that reveal character traits, motivations, or changes over time

        The CC version is strange because it fundamentally focuses on “how characters develop” rather than “characterization.” It suggests that characters in literature should be examined as if they were real people, rather than narrative elements. It is also overly specific. Why only complex characters? Why should we only look at how they interact with other characters, advance the plot or develop the theme?

        OTOH, the GLE isn’t particularly well worded either, but it is not jarring the way the CC is. The reason the CC standard is weird is because it has to be linked back to the generic anchor standard:

        CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

        “Individuals” don’t interact in a literary text, because they aren’t real. The CC standards are impose a structure which makes it seem like maybe we should act like they are. It is strange, and it isn’t a problem in any other standards I’ve ever seen.

        By the way, a lot of higher performing countries don’t have anything like this standard at all, the closest being something like:

        Ireland: Indicate aspects of the narrative which they found significant and attempt to explain fully the meaning thus generated.

        Finland: analysis and interpretation of literature by making use of concepts and approaches that are justified in terms of interpretation;

      • I think our exchange demonstrates that these and any other standards any group develops will, by their nature, be debatable – right down to such an obvious point as whether two standards are about the same thing.

        That’s fine and, as I say, inevitable. But it ends up being an argument against any standards at all, democratically developed or not. Because there will be no non-debatable standards.

      • Bill,

        Your example was misleading, either intentionally or because you don’t understand the standards.

      • Ahh, too bad to took that tack, Tom. I’d thought our exchange had been free of the usual ad hominem until now.

        Anyway, the source of the comparison is Dr. David Pook, teacher of English (and other subjects) at the Derryfield School in Manchester, NH. He played a key role in writing the standards, assisting co-author Susan Pimentel. He gives workshops all over the country on implementing the standards. Here he is demonstrating/explaining the standards to New Hampshire legislators (and others)

        None of this means that he and I are right and you are wrong. Just that you’d be better off sticking to the substance rather than attacking your opponent.

      • Bill,

        My “tack” was pointing out an obvious misrepresentation of your state’s standards, to which you basically replied that my example just shows that nobody can agree on anything so, whatever!

        It is much more disturbing that you got this from an explanation to legislators because, let’s be clear here, he is blatantly misrepresenting the GLEs. The “characterization” GLE is RIGHT UNDER the “initial understanding” one. He talks about how the GLEs don’t use the word “analyze” when the subheading ANALYSIS and INTERPRETATION OF LITERARY TEXTS/CITING EVIDENCE is right there above five analytical and interpretive standards.

        This is what Common Core experts fly around the country doing.

  8. Ray Gaer permalink

    My this is a deep rabbit hole.

    I appreciate your investigation and your voice for teacher inclusion.

  9. Aaron Garland permalink

    Mercedes,

    First of all HUGE kudos to you and the research you are doing on the Common Core.

    I applaud this from the bottom of my heart. As a fellow high school English teacher of thirteen years I smelt a rat the minute I encountered this behemoth of bureaucratic gobbledygook.

    If you haven’t already encountered this research please check out Clint Richardson’s work. My take is that he rambles a bit, sometimes goes down the wrong hole and doesn’t quite connect the dots at times, but nonetheless he may be on to something bigger, more insidious and perhaps a lot creepier than one would suspect when it comes to the Common Core and a corporation in India named Core.

    Have a look and let me know what you think.

    http://realitybloger.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/core-making-children-stupider-around-the-world/

    You rock!

    Cheers,

    Aaron

  10. John Young permalink

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina and commented:
    CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE WHOLE POST. WHY IS OUR GOVERNOR AND DOE SO OBTUSE?

  11. LLC1923 permalink

    Thank you for your incredible work.

    How about posting a chart showing the reformers’ number of years in public school classrooms? Their collective years of inexperience will provide an interesting discussion since they spend so much time bashing public eduction and teachers without background knowledge for the dual purposes of power and greed.

    David Coleman – 0
    Susan Pimentel – 0
    Bill Gates – 0
    Michelle Rhee – 3 (TFA)
    Joel Klein – ?
    Arne Duncan – 0
    John King – ? (TFA)
    etc.

  12. Hi Mercedes,

    Great work as always.

    There was a draft of the Anchor Standards for, well, “reading, writing, listening and speaking” as I recall. My feedback at the time is here: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2009/10/my-official-feedback.html

    The Wayback Machine is your friend here: http://web.archive.org/web/20090924225541/http://www.corestandards.org/Standards/index.htm

    Use it to find all the old documents since removed from the Common Core website.

  13. Reblogged this on TRUTH ABOUT EDUCATION and commented:
    Great work! Thank you!

  14. stephenwv permalink

    One subject that does not seemed to get addressed substantially and is underlying the entire methodology of Common Core is elimination of 50% of standard classical literature and poetry analysis in favor of government documents, editorials, technical manuals, etc.

    The reports by parents around the country sends a message of political agenda, ethics, and morality being introduced into the school system in a biased way that has more deliberate emphasis than ever before. Introduction of sexual preference in kindergarten, parental infidelity identification and analysis in 4th grade, books of sexually explicit adult content required reading by minors without parental consent, and lesson plans that introduce and analyze political agenda items in a biased way. Government should not be teaching ethics, morality, and political agenda to our children. That is the jurisdiction of parents.

    Additionally the widespread use of “group think” is equally ignored and disturbing.

    These have been deliberately built into Common Core. I must believe there was an underlying influence at the development level to make sure this was possible as opposed to a teacher led initiative.

  15. “But aren’t they better than the random, frequently poor quality, standards we had?” Well, Mussolini had the trains running on time in Italy during World War II, was that better than what they had?

    Look, I watched Sandra Stotsky’s video at the Peabody meeting. She said that there was the principle to consider BEFORE whether we need new standards or even if these are any good.

    We cannot, as a country, allow one money and one wealthy group to control public education and thereby, control the outcomes for our country (with public education being the backbone of our democracy).

    I’m not going to get shaken off by “we need better education” when it is education bought and paid for by others. I don’t care that some teachers were “involved” or gave “input.”

    The Standards were NOT written by educators. They are NOT developmentally appropriate for K-2. And Bill Gates is not the king.

    I live in Seattle and believe me, Gates casts a big shadow over the region. You can’t swing a dead cat in this town and not hit some group getting money from him. These groups like to say, “Gates doesn’t tell us what to do or say.” Maybe but what that money buys is silence and acquiesce.

    Someone at the NPE conference asked me if I feared Gates. My reply is that HE should fear me and everyone at the conference who is going to expose what he’s doing.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  9. The Gates Foundation Made Direct Contributions to Alaska’s Government & Education Groups In Alaska For Support of The Common Core | Stop the Common Core in Alaska
  10. Let’s Help NEA’s Dennis Van Roekel Forsake His Common Core “Guessing” | deutsch29
  11. Let’s Help NEA’s Dennis Van Roekel Forsake His Common Core “Guessing” – @ THE CHALK FACE
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  14. Too Much Change, Too Fast: Leaving Everyone Behind – redqueeninla
  15. Mercedes Schneider and Peter Greene Offer Timely Help to Dennis Van Roekel | Diane Ravitch's blog
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  17. Achieve, Edu Trust and Thomas Fordham Inst – A 3 Way Love Story | Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY
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  20. Oklahoma Could Be First to Really Dump Common Core - Dr. Rich Swier

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