Falling test scores cause some to point fingers at new curriculum in Kansas

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Test scores have fallen among students in Kansas. Some think they know why.

Students in the Shawnee Mission School District and across the state are struggling to adapt to the new Common Core standards. This is the first year they’ve been implemented, and while some are worried about this drop in performance, educators are preaching patience as students adapt to a different way of learning.

This is the first year teachers in Kansas are using Common Core standards. They were created in 2010 and 45 states, including Kansas and Missouri, have adopted them.

Common Core standards focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills. So instead of asking, what is 3X4, it asks, if Suzy, Bill and Mary all have four apples, how many would they have if they put them all together.

Supporters say it will better prepare kids for college, but opponents argue the material is dry, and the one nationwide curriculum is not good for all students. They want local districts to have more control over what is taught to their children. Opponents will most likely use the latest test scores to justify their argument.

In reading, scores statewide fell by two percent. In math they fell seven percent. Science scores rose slightly, though it’s not under the common core umbrella.

The Fordham Foundation, an Ohio based nonprofit that supports education, found Common Core standards to be more rigorous than the past standards and urge states to be patient as the kids get used to the new tests, believing scores will go up as they adjust.

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  • J. Jones

    Common Core Standards is a terrible teaching method and unfortunate for the students.

    According to this article, “educators are preaching patience as students adapt to a different way of learning”. This is exactly opposite of what should happen. Educators should be adapting their teaching methods to the student’s way of learning.

  • witty

    Of course scores go down; kids know the material but can’t apply it to the real world. I think it’s brilliant that they are changing to critical thinking. I knew something wasn’t right in the schools when I went to a hardware store to ask for a yard of chain and the clerk cut 18”. After I pointed out his mistake, his second attempt was 24”. His third attempt, he called for help from another clerk.

  • uncommon

    Critical thinking in the way they are teaching it, at the time they are teaching, is not appropriate. It takes kids further away from learning the basics and having easy access to head knowledge.

  • Karrin

    Common Core “State” Standards were adopted by Governor Jay Nixon before the standards were written and there was no legislative approval or vote. The standards were written by Jason Zimba and David Coleman, both of which have no K-12 teaching experience. The CCSS were funded through federal stimulus money and millions received through the Gates Foundation. The top professor in English Language Arts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and the top mathematician in the country, Dr. James Milgram were both on the CC validation committee and refused to sign off on these so-called “rigorous” standards. These standards are not “state led”. In fact, they are copyrighted by two private trade organizations. The standards are also developmentally inappropriate at the elementary level calling for kindergarteners to use abstract thinking when their brains are not yet developed to think that way. The new standardized tests (Smarter Balance) will be aligned to the CCSS, which in turn means all curriculum will have to be aligned to these standards for children to be able to pass the tests. I encourage parents and educators to research what CC really is and how it came about. Also, look into the states that are a year or two ahead of Missouri in implementation to see how they are doing.

  • Stephanie M

    I moved my children out of “Floriduh” to escape common core. They teachers there teach to a test every child was dumbed down. The first week in Kansas school my children finally found out what it was like to learn and be taught. Now they are beginning to introduce common core in our district. The lazy teachers are embracing it, the real teachers are fighting it. I will be pushing for an accelerated graduation for my youngest, I will not subject her to this torture. Guess what people if we do not take a stand against common core now we will have a horrible future. The children of today are our future doctors, lawyers, nurses, politicians, teachers…….. Think about it, scary huh?

  • TB

    Common Core is not a Federal program (No Child Left Behind was Federalization of Education) and it is not curriculum – individual schools still have control. We have standards now and this is no different except some people do not like the source…standards are simply the what and curriculum is the how. No one cared about CC until the government made funds available to help states with implementation and now all of sudden it is a bad thing? Please educate yourselves and learn the facts. Those looking to continue to destroy the public school system for profit do not like CC because it will help boost public education, so they are spreading a lot of “boogie man”, “big brother is coming for you” lies to scare people into thinking it is bad. What a shame that some will put profits before children! Regarding Ms. Stotsky and Mr. Milgram – their refusal to sign is nothing more then an ego based hissy fit because the rest of the committee did not bow to their personal agendas.

  • CC

    Common Core is indeed a Federal program, and our state legislators who are responsible for funding public education were completely side-stepped. Do real research and you’ll discover reality. Funded through the 2009 stimulus bill and originated from Washington DC-based organizations — how much more Federal can you get than that?

  • TB

    CC – your information is incorrect…the legislature was not side stepped. Per the KS Constitution it is the Elected (just like the legislators) Board of Educations responsibility to set standards. I certainly hope you are not one of those folks who cherry pick the things they like about the Constitution and ignore the rest. I know Kansas individuals who served on the committees that wrote the standards so again you are incorrect about their origin. If you have facts based concerns about Common Core that is a discussion that should be had, but please no more with the half truths and outright lies. :)

  • Vee Cunningham

    You are incorrect CC. Please research the facts. The authors of Common Core are: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and Council of Chief State School Officers. It is by no means required by the Federal government. The Federal government gives assistance money to states that adopt it to help with the costs of implementing it. Books are expensive, especially an entire new curriculum for several elementary schools in a district. Go to the source website http://www.corestandards.org/ and do your research.

    • CC

      Actually, authored by Achieve Inc but endorsed by those two trade associations you mentioned. All in Washington D.C. — thank you for validating my point! I will clarify my original statement further. Funded mostly from private organizations like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but millions of (borrowed) federal stimulus dollars were handed to the states in the form of “Race to the Top” funding to entice Governors to sign up. In Kansas, Gov Parkinson and Education Commissioner Alexa Posny were the only two people who committed Kansas to Common Core in 2009. Posny soon left Kansas to work under Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Oh, there is so much more. I believe Kansas will eventually take control of its schools once again — hopefully sooner rather than later.

  • Suzanne Putman

    Word problems are nothing new, but Common Core style word problems usually require 3-4 processes within each question. The children have not mastered memorization of math facts, so these types of questions require several steps to get a simple answer in the end. That is why we call it puzzle math…it is more about critical thinking skills, and very little about learning simple math processes which most people use in everyday life…..Children need to be taught the basics at home now….

  • Dana

    Learners are either visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Does this new curriculum/learning focus appeal to all three of these learning styles? It is important to understand that all people process information in different ways, so a “one size fits all” approach does not work for learning.

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