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Sandra Stotsky Responds to My Common Core-Achieve Post

December 3, 2013

On December 2, 2013, I wrote a post about the role of the governor- and business-run nonprofit, Achieve, Inc., in the creation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In my post I also discuss Achieve connections to (now designated) “founding partner” of Student Achievement Partners, Sue Pimentel, and I refer to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) for English Language Arts (ELA) and math– the supposed “anchors” of CCSS.

My Achieve post includes much information that has received little publicity on the manufacture of CCSS.

CCSS ELA Validation Committee member Sandra Stotsky read my post and and added the following information in the comments. Since this additional information has also received next to no publicity, I wish to post Stotsky’s comment as its own post, for all to easily read.

Stotsky writes:

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.

Let the “flushing” continue.


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

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?

  1. SAL permalink

    Thank you for your articles about the NGA, CCSSO and Achieve!!!! We need to shed more light on this!!! Great work!!! Parents are asking for more info on who exactly hired these standard writers? how much were they paid? Where did the seed money for Achieve in 1996/97 come from?? So many questions that are still left unanswered!!!! Thanks for all your insightful articles.

  2. Powerful response to an informative original piece. Well done deutsch.

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