BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. — Opponents of the academic standards utilized in the state of West Virginia, as well as those curious about the subject gathered in a packed room at the Courtyard Marriott in Bridgeport.

The West Virginia Against Common Core organization played host to the event, inviting one of the most recognized critics of the Common Core State Standards to speak, Dr. Sandra Stotsky.

“Dr. Stotsky is the first expert that we’ve brought into the state and we want this to be a big success because this is awareness,” Angela Summers with WV Against Common Core said. “There is no one that can meet her credentials. So, we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us.”

Stotsky is Professor Emerita from the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform. She served as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 to 2003, helping construct the standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers during her time there. She also served on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative, charged with reviewing the standards.

Part of the reason she is motivated to speak out against Common Core is because of the groups she said were left out of the process.

“Common Core’s project excluded parents who had no idea what was going to happen to their children, it excluded teachers who had no idea until of few years ago what they were expected to teach, it excluded state legislators and what the costs were going to be and it excluded local school board officials.”

The standards originated when the National Governors Association and the Chief State School Officers organizations came together with the idea ELA and math standards for K-12 public schools should prepare students for college and be mostly universal so a student in California would have the same base knowledge as a student from West Virginia by the end of the same grade.

In 2009, the two organizations announced the Common Core Standards Initiative and 49 states and territories, including West Virginia, had joined in the effort.

The organizations partnered with D.C.-based, independent, bi-partisan, non-profit education reform organization Achieve, Inc. to construct the standards with outside funding provided by various organizations, including more than $200 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the NGA, the standards were sent out for public comment so feedback could be provided from parents and educators before the final draft was released in June 2010.

They were presented as rigorous standards, but Stotsky said this simply isn’t the case.

“We are told over and over again by people who simply parrot talking points that they are demanding and rigorous,” she said. “What they don’t know, because they cannot read high school math and English or science standards, is that these standards will lower the academic standards of our high school curriculum.”

The authors of the standards claim they are not a curriculum and do not tell teachers how to teach. Rather, they are goals for what students should know by the end of each grade. For example, one such goal for math in the 2nd grade is students should be able to “Reason abstractly and quantitatively.” If teachers are able to get the students up to all standards, they allow for further lessons to go beyond the base knowledge required. However, critics claim the standards do ultimately dictate curriculum because textbooks and lesson plans must account for the standards.

Critics also claim the released standards are an attempt at federal control over education. The president’s administration did not have any direct influence on the development but did come out in support, stating they fit with the “Race to the Top” Program, which provides incentive for improvement in the education system. If a state adopts a set of common standards, they are eligible for 40 points out of 500 available in the contest toward federal funding.

In this state, the standards are labeled as “West Virginia’s Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives” and, according to the state Department of Education, were created after 100 teachers from around the state came together to customize Common Core. These standards were approved by the state Board of Education and local school boards were allowed slow accumulation until this school year, when full implementation is required.

Stotsky claims the Next Generation Standards could be costly to the future of West Virginian students, especially with the oil and gas industry taking off in the state needing employees with a STEM background. If the standards do not fulfill the requirements for such a job, the students will have limited options once entering the work force.

“Between math and science, your high school students aren’t even going to be anything to be anything but well-educated ditch diggers,” she said.

Over the past few months, more teachers –and politicians– have seemingly started to call the standards into question. A recent poll released by Education Next suggests this is accurate.

According to the poll, from 2013 to 2014, support of Common Core from teachers dropped from 76 percent to 46 percent, 57 percent to 43 percent for Republicans, 65 percent to 63 percent from Democrats and 65 percent to 53 percent from the public.

“It’s beginning to implode faster than anyone thought possible,” Stotsky said.

Supporters of Common Core claim the shift is due to the issue being politicized while critics claim the shift is due to people becoming aware of what they describe as the unintended consequences of the standards.

WV Against Common Core were encouraged by the standing room only crowd comprised of educators, state legislators and citizens who came to listen to Stotsky, as well as Ohio Senator Andy Thompson, from a state attempting to get rid of Common Core.

The organizations goal is to build on the momentum of the event and spread the message across the state and, if they become successful, possibly replacing the Common Core standards with the reportedly successful standards Stotsky helped develop in Massachusetts, which she updated in 2010.

“There’s no common sense to adopting Common Core that’s untested when we have tested standards from Massachusetts,” Summers said. “It seems like such a no-brainer and that’s what I want us to do. I want us to get real standards that’s already tested and we know they’re rigorous.”

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the state board of education and many county boards of education remain in support of the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

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  • Debra

    I am not sure that our students are doing worse now than they did in the 60's and so on. I saw a show recently that talked about how our students are not regressing, but that other countries are passing us up. But people tend to forget that we teach and test everyone. China, which has such high marks, separates the students according to their skill level around middle school age. If you are not able to keep up with educational standards, you leave school and get skill training to work. We continue educating our students, which is great. But then we test them and combine those scores with all other students. I wonder how we would compare if we left the scores of the special ed students out of the mix?

    • a concerned educator

      Debra

      This is also true in Russia, Bangladesh, India, and many other countries. In the U.S., all but 1% of students MUST be tested on state tests. In addition, in many countries, it is only the wealthy students who are allowed to attend school, let alone be tested. Comparing apples to apples is one thing, but oranges to prunes will leave a bitter taste. In addition, our students with disabilities must be tested on the WESTEST on their grade level, not their ability level. For example, if a 10th grade student is Intellectually Disabled and can only read and do math on a third grade level, they are still tested on a 10th grade level. This shows nothing in terms of the validity of the student's scores.

  • John S

    These events are pointless unless the presentation is balanced. There are those who want to understand and not just reinforce another's bias. The outcome here was decided prior to the actual event. In other words, a waste of time.

  • Dumb Liberals

    The common core proponents are still trying to calculate the number of opposing attendees.

  • mntnman

    Yes there is tons of misinformation being spread about Common Core. It is a standard, not a curriculum. It tells us what we expect children to know and to be able to do by a certain grade level. It is designed to go deeper on fewer standards.

    It cannot be argued here in a few lines or twelve paragraphs. I do know that thousands of people were involved in developing Common Core. Of the twenty four who approved the final version at the end, only four voted no -- including Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who argues for HER standards. She has been loud and raucous about her views -- and she is certainly entitled to her views -- but that does not make her right. She certainly thinks HER standards are superior.

    I do know this -- what we have been doing hasn't worked. So we need to do something different. Common Core is different. No one, including Dr. Stotsky, really knows whether this will succeed or fail. She thinks it will -- it might. But it might not. The many teachers I know, who go into Common Core with an open mind, seem to like it , and appreciate the approach. (Not all of course.) So time will tell -- I do know that it is not a disaster, nor is it a panacea. It is different. How about we give it a chance to work before we decide the sky is falling.

    Again, remember, what we've been doing isn't working. Time to make a change. Change is hard. It is scary. Many worked hard on these standards. I hope they work for all our sakes. But I am willing to give it some time -- the sky is not falling and our children will not suddenly become more stupid by using the Common Core.

    For those who know it all about education, step up and give us the solutions. We anxiously await the magic touch.

    • ViennaGuy

      In my view, Common Core does nothing to fix the real problems in the public schools: parents who don't care, teachers who aren't allowed to teach, administrators who are more interested in writing rules/furthering their careers than they are in educating kids, and policymakers in distant capital cities who are out of touch with local schools yet who think they know best what should be going on in those local schools.

      What WILL solve things are parents, teachers, and administrators who are **committed** to making sure that kids learn how to read, write, and do math - and not committed to political agendas, not committed to kowtowing to each and every special-interest group who wants to tell the school system what/how to teach(and I'm looking directly at the proponents of mainstreaming, which was one of the biggest disasters ever foisted on the public schools). Common Core does nothing in this regard.

      Former House speaker Tip O'Neill famously said that "all politics is local." I would tweak that saying to be "all education is local," because education has always been best when it is focused at a local level.

  • Walsingham

    I'm sure that Dr. Stotsky would provide her curriculum reform services for free, once the Common Core is abandoned.

  • Whaaa Police

    Then:
    Right Wing Nuts: 'It's the governments fault our kids are uneducated.'

    Now:
    Right Wing Nuts: 'How dare the government implement minimum standards that are children have to learn."

    Lesson Learned:
    You can't please crazy, they have no logic.

  • harlancentral

    whats funny is they make it sound like the schools/countys can make there own cso etc...but if its a national standard...all the standards that will be on the test will be from the FEDS...not the ones the teachers come up with...they will not make 50 different standardized test for each state.....another argument we hear is that if students move from state to state they will have different csos...the thing is less than 2% of students moves completely to another state.

    they are always saying we are behind in math and English compared to other countries....but here in the USA we teach every student every student is getting an education in some of these countries who have high scores they only teach the students who extinguished they dont teach the special ed students etc....

    here is a great link that goes even further in explaining what common core is

    http://youtu.be/Si-kx5-MKSE

  • Debra

    I have several siblings who teach. One of them explained to me that Comon Core only tells her what objectives need to be taught, not how to teach them. She explained that she still uses the same methods to teach the subject matter. Some of my more conservative friends don't like Comon Core because they don't like the content being used, such as the books on reading lists, and certain information on science concepts. They also claim that critical thinking skills undermine the authority of the parents. I would suppose this has to do with teaching certain science standards. Politics has always determined what is taught in our schools and I'm not sure how you fix that. I just think this is more politically motivated than factually motivated.

    • stephenwv

      So Debra, tell me what are the same methods she uses to teach the entirely new math standards? There are no more flash cards or math tables to learn. The methods and curriculum teachers use are driven by these standards. There is NO way that the old methods can be used at all to teach to these new standards.

      There are specific requirements in the ELA standards that are identical in driving the methods and curriculum that require variation from past practices. These are what the training seminars the teachers are being required to take address.

      Because these standards have never been tried and tested ANYWHERE, it is only about hope and change.

      This is not political. This is about what is best for our children. Common Core is not it.

    • a concerned educator

      Debra

      Several teachers from several schools have all told me that they were told what teaching techniques to use in regards to the common core. This information has come from multiple counties.

      • Debra

        I don't understand how so many teachers get different instruction. Another sibling that teaches in a different county related the same information on how to teach that the first sibling did. Maybe the administrators of schools are deciding what techniques to use. But they both claim that Common Core does not tell them how to teach.

        • a concerned educator

          I agree that much of the misinformation comes down from administrators at both the school and county office levels. Unfortunately, when these same administrators tell teachers that they will be evaluated on their use of these techniques, teachers feel "required" to use them.

          • Debra

            This is where those teachers need to involve the union to make sure everyone is on the same page.

  • stephenwv

    One of the best and most truthful articles I have seen from the media on Common Core. I applaud this coverage.

  • a concerned educator

    I am definitely not a right winger, but I do not support the use of the Common Core. The objectives touted by this scheme take away from the focus of students learning basic information to develop a foundation for higher level thinking skills. For example, in the past few weeks, I know for a fact that teachers in some counties have been told NOT to teach multiplication facts to students. Without basic math competencies, how are students supposed to apply these skills to more critical thinking issues?

    Let teachers teach the basics before we try to make scientists out of all students. We already have too many students who graduate without having basic math, reading, or writing skills. The Common Core is not going to help this matter.

  • J.R. Skene

    Too rigorous? No, all that is seen here is the extreme right upset that something this challenging shouldn't be placed in front of this nations students. Stop being mediocre. Stop playing games with education, challenge our young to be more than just average, and allow a non partisan coalition who studied this top to bottom do what they believe our students need to do to be successful in a more competitive world.

    • stephenwv

      J. R. Skene. you should actually learn about Common Core rather than the rote rhetoric from Federal, State, and Local education officials. Their rhetoric began in all states with the same false claims that "these standards were developed by local teachers, parents, and stake holders." What a miracle! They all come up with the exact same standards! Now WV changed that claim to say they were customized! Hello? The legal agreement WV Dept of Ed signed PROHIBITS changes to the standards! It only allows additions. Information that is not included in ANY Common Core testings.

      The administration rhetoric is no different from "If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it." Or " the oceans will rise 14 feet by 2020!"

      The first program at the Courtyard Marriott in Bridgeport, was a presentation by Dr. Sandra Stotsky on that mystery called Common Core. What a breath of fresh air to have this mystery program discussed to find out how it actually effects our children's education.

      Here is the link to Dr. Stotsky's presentation.
      At 47:00 she is introduced.
      At 50:00 her presentation begins.
      http://new.livestream.com/accounts/5323999/WVACC20140824

      Dr. Stotsky is recognized as the nation's foremost authority on K-12 education standards. She developed or reformed K-12 standards in MA in 2003, recognized as one of the best set of state standards in the country. She has published books, articles, and spoken before many state Legislations most recently last Tuesday in Ohio.

  • kc

    Really? Of all of the issues around common core, you folks focus on "too many female principals?"