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Bill Gates Must Be Worried About Common Core Survival

October 5, 2013

Bill Gates is heavily invested in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, CCSS is in trouble. Even US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is desperately trying to save them.

Forget the students and teachers. It’s The Standards that the likes of Gates and Duncan wish to rescue.

Gates/Scholastic CCSS Survey Result “Early Release”

In order to promote the image of CCSS as being embraced by teachers, Gates has partnered with Scholastic to produce the 2013 version of Gates education survey, Primary Sources. Even though the survey isn’t ready yet for release, Gates has decided to publish an “early release”, a report based upon the part of the survey focused on teachers’ views of CCSS.

Of course, this early release presents positive results:

Teachers support CCSS.

Imagine that.

Never mind that Gates’ partner in this survey project, Scholastic, has taken $4.5 million from Gates to “support teachers’  implementation of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics.”

If CCSS goes bust, Scholastic loses money.

In releasing a partial survey result, Gates is clearly attempting to rally support for CCSS. I mean, it sure does sound good to say, “We surveyed 20,000 teachers nationwide, and they know about and want CCSS.”

I do not normally write posts based upon partial survey results. Releasing a partial result bespeaks an agenda to speedily influence an issue. I like to see the entire result then write.

Nevertheless, since I know that Gates wants to sway public opinion in favor of CCSS (he has given me 173.5 million reasons to believe as much), I will offer some comments in this post to assist readers in critically digesting this slice of Gates-CCSS propaganda.

My commentary refers to this 15-page report released by Gates and Scholastic on October 4, 2013.

Concern One: Survey Sample

First, I wonder whether the 20,000 teachers surveyed excludes those who were teachers but whose jobs were cut in order for districts to scrape together money to pay for reforms– not the least of which is CCSS and its assessments. Omitting teachers who are casualties to CCSS automatically biases the survey results.

Concern Two: Category Collapsing

Next, on page 2, Gates and Scholastic note that “teachers are enthusiastic about implementation.” However, if one considers the more detailed result presented on page 7, one sees that the “strongly agree” category is small (26% for teachers overall). The largest category is “somewhat agree”– an issue I wrote about concerning the results of both the AFT CCSS survey and the NEA CCSS survey.

Teachers do not “enthusiastically support” CCSS. Most have reservations.

Concern Three: Question Wording

Another “sleight of survey” is on page 5. The problem is with the question:

Do you think the CCSS will be positive for most students, will they not make much of a difference for most students, or will they be negative for most students?  [Emphasis added.]

I’m sorry. Are we “leaving children behind” now?

Isn’t the broadcasted CCSS goal to “make all students college and career ready”?

Substituting the word most in place of the CCSS-promoter-declared all is a public admission that CCSS is not suited for all students, after all.

Plus, teachers are a lot less likely to answer positively to this question if asked about “all students” as opposed to “most students.”

As it is, with the term most in the question, just over half (57%) of teachers responded that CCSS would be positive for “most” students.

I wonder: How many teachers who answered “positive” envisioned certain students falling through the CCSS cracks? I know I did in reading this question tonight.

Concern Four: Unclear Question and Limited Response Choice

Page 4 is also shady reporting, Here is  the question:

Once implemented, do you think the CCSS will have a positive or negative impact on each of the following?

Now in the report, the response is “ability to think critically and use reasoning skills.” These two are not necessarily the same. Critical thinking involves reasoning skills, but critical thinking surpasses the “skill” level of learning. So, my question at this point is whether two response categories have been collapsed to yield the positive result, or whether these two ideas that are not interchangeable have been presented together as one item (thus confounding reporting– one cannot know which one is the focus of teacher response).

Another issue concerns the limited response choices. In other questions (such as the one previously noted on page 7) include the choice,”somewhat.” However, for some reason, those composing the questions omit the “somewhat” category. This omission means that a respondent who does not wish to choose the neutral category, “neither negative nor positive” is forced to choose “positive”– even if this respondent has reservations.

One can see how a forced choice question might be used to shape a survey outcome.

Concern Five: Selling Curriculum and Assessment

One final observation, from page 9. Here is the opening statement:

Seventy-four percent (74%) of teachers in Common Core states say implementation will require them to make changes in their teaching practice.

The end of the page reads like a sales pitch for CCSS materials. Teachers need more time to find materials and plan lessons. Teachers need professional development.

Enter Scholastic and other education companies.

They are here for us out of the goodness of their profit margins hearts.

In my Gates CCSS series, I highlight organizations receiving Gates money to provide CCSS curriculum.

CCSS curricula are fast becoming big business.

So are CCSS assessments.

The statement above from page 9 notes that 74% of teachers report being “required” to change their teaching practice.

No mention about pressure to teach to the CCSS tests. This looming issue certainly does “change teaching practice”– for the worse.

In Closing

If Gates is going to release “early” survey result propaganda in favor of CCSS, I am going to critically dissect his papier mache result for the benefit of those officials, teachers and parents who read the Gates/Scholastic gloss and feel, “Something’s not right here.”

Something is not right, indeed, when the oppressor tells the oppressed, “See? You are happy with oppression after all.”

Don’t you believe it.

  1. Linda permalink

    Whenever they announce the results of these surveys (AFT, NEA, Gates, etc) I never know or hear of anyone who was asked to respond or who responded.

    Where are all these teachers?

    Gates research and Gates survey..both are oxymorons. Anything Gates pays for agrees with Gates.

    He appears desperate at this point. Why waste this money if it so great and everyone loves it?

  2. Laura h. Chapman permalink

    Demographic information will be of interest. Random sample but with some teachers included, excluded from the sample? What proportion were in year one, or two, or three of implementation?What proportion of teachers by grade levels, by subjects? Were the teachers in districts that have received Gates money excluded? and so on.

  3. Reblogged this on Parents of PVMS and commented:
    He should be worried with Mercedes on his tail!!

  4. Ellen LUbic permalink

    Paper Mache indeed…more like a pinada…beat is with a stick (of facts) until it’s brains fall out.

  5. Peggy Schwarz permalink

    This corporate-supported lie is all part of Duncan (& White’s) plan to identify ALL opposition to Common Core as nothing more than extreme right – wing (& ignorant) opposition to the content & just pretend we don’t exist. It was reported that Mary Landrieu voiced support for CC the other day. Someone should advise her that she is deeply offending some members of her own constituency by not taking a closer look before adopting a position on CC. Failure to do so could cause her to lose an election to the least of the candidates who have challenged her! In her defense, her ignorance of the facts is typical of the non-educator public. We need to change some high-profile minds to get the public at large to see the Big Picture.

    People have just been accepting Duncan’s spin on what CC is & more importantly, what the OPPOSITION is – at face value. Now that ACT & SAT are planning to PARCC-align, the private & Catholic schools are having to adopt it, the volume of parent complaints is beginning to rise astronomically. I am a little more hopeful that more non-educators will seek & learn the true facts & understand what the true debate is. I just keep talking & blogging & telling people where they can get the facts. Thanks, Mercedes! Hope the tide is finally turning!

  6. Joseph permalink

    Scholastic was recently caught in NYC planting speeches by Mayor Bloomberg in their testing.

  7. Sharon Bahe permalink

    Thank you for helping me to better understand shady research practices. For the past couple of years or so my district has used similar strategies when sending out surveys. The surveys include a comment section but can only be accessed if the forced choice ? are answered.

    I did call and express concern. In the future, if I call ,my new knowledge will help me be more articulate.

  8. Joseph permalink

    I can’t imagine the synergy between InBloom and Microsofts Common Core. I know the world is turning on its head when Glenn Beck is even piling on Gates and has even better information.

  9. Deborah permalink

    I called Scholastic this past October (2013) when the results of this survey were first released to tell them that their survey was unfair because the standards had not yet been fully implemented. I urged them to conduct a follow-up survey. I also commented about the fact that they surveyed a paltry 20,000 teachers from across the country, while we have 600,000 teachers alone here in the largest union (NYSUT) in New York State. I suggested surveying THEM!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. CCSS post from another blog. Quite the read. #netDE | Transparent Christina
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  3. Schneider to David Brooks: Common Core Does Not Encourage Opinion Writing Like Yours (UPDATE) | Diane Ravitch's blog
  4. Bill Gates funded the Seattle Times “Education Lab” | Seattle Education
  5. Gates Is at It Again: The Common Core-Centered “Collaborative for Student Success” | Dick Rylander 4 District 4

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