Would You Believe…?


As data-driven and evidence-based challenges to the efficacy of the untested Common Core State Standards become stronger and louder, it appears CCSS supporters are growing desperate and resorting to Maxwell Smart’s catchphrase and tactic of backpedaling and switching between unconvincing and unsubstantiated claims.

This “Would you believe…?” strategy of continually shifting claims and substituting evidence is apparent in a new report from the New America Foundation.

“America’s primary and secondary schools may be busy preparing for the onset of the Common Core standards, meant to better prepare students for college, but one key partner isn’t even close to ready: colleges and universities themselves.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the New America Foundation, which finds that “there is little evidence to suggest colleges are meaningfully aligning college instruction and teacher preparation programs with the Common Core standards.”

Even though the Common Core was meant largely to improve the college readiness of high school graduates, the report says, “Many of those within higher education were not involved in developing or endorsing the Common Core standards and assessments, and have not considered how they might change their own practices to align with this K–12 initiative. Indeed, many are not even aware of the Common Core.

The findings follow earlier alarms that the people who run higher education have, for the most part, gotten involved only late in the Common Core process…

One reason, it said, is that it’s hard to come up with a single definition of what makes a student ready for college. Another is the huge variety of colleges and universities…

The report recommends that colleges add the results of Common Core assessment tests to the measures by which they gauge students’ eligibility for admission and financial aid..”

Jon Marcus, “Report: Higher Education Behind On Common Core” Huff Post College 7/23/14

I have previously commented on the important distinction between data and evidence and the tendency of some ed reformers to cherry-pick data in order to find any “evidence” supporting their predetermined conclusions.

Ed reformers have claimed that the Common Core is necessary for students so they can meet the academic demands of colleges, yet this new report reveals that colleges have made few if any demands, as they have been primarily silent partners when it comes to advising the authors of the Common Core State Standards.

Relying on Maxwell Smart’s  “Would you believe…?” playbook, some ed reformers appear to be adopting an emergency response strategy, and are now hoping we will believe newly fabricated evidence supporting their claims.

It doesn’t matter that the authors of the Standards barely consulted with colleges during the design and development phase, as long as colleges will now change their academic programs to align with the Common Core and that will serve as evidence of their endorsement.

While the report found that colleges have been reluctant to participate in the Common Core experiment because it is very difficult to achieve consensus on a “single definition of what makes a student ready for college.” and there is a  “huge variety of colleges and universities” ed reformers would still have us believe the great and powerful OZ, I mean Coleman, has identified a common set of college and career readiness skills.

So, the inexperienced and unwise chief architect of the Common Core has been designated America’s college and career readiness guru, and we are to believe he is qualified to advise every elementary, middle, secondary school and college in America regarding what it means to be “college ready”?

When it comes to the lack of evidence supporting their specious claim that Common Core standardized tests are valid and reliable indicators of college readiness, reformers just need to get colleges to follow orders, I mean recommendations and now agree to, “add the results of Common Core assessment tests to the measures by which they gauge students’ eligibility for admission and financial aid..”

Considering the weekly news reports of states that are reconsidering their participation in PARCC and the Common Core State Standards, I wonder how many times David Coleman has responded to his subordinates, “I asked you not to tell me that!”


9 thoughts on “Would You Believe…?

    • Thanks very much for the comment and link Mercedes…great research and writing!

      I edited my post to acknowledge the “fringe” role played by educators, it would be interesting to know how many were college administrators vs. instructors?

      Your excellent reporting and Coleman’s own words indicate that “insiders” had the honor and privilege of advising the initial working group or “inner circle” but the drafting and writing or “heavy lifting” of the process was restricted to Coleman’s A-Team and from the start this was an exclusive rather than inclusive club.

      As the working group expanded to include “advisers” tasked with primarily offering feedback, it is clear they were welcome to drop suggestions and concerns in the comment box; but pencils and erasers should be checked at the door,..

      “Student Achievement Partners, all you need to know about us are a couple things. One is we’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards. And our only qualification was our attention to and command of the evidence behind them. That is, it was our insistence in the standards process that it was not enough to say you wanted to or thought that kids should know these things, that you had to have evidence to support it, frankly because it was our conviction that the only way to get an eraser into the standards writing room was with evidence behind it, cause otherwise the way standards are written you get all the adults into the room about what kids should know, and the only way to end the meeting is to include everything. That‟s how we’ve gotten to the typical state standards we have today.”

      Click to access What_must_be_done.pdf

      No doubt Coleman convened his exclusive and elite A-Team to develop and draft the Standards and just like John “Hannibal” Smith would declare each weekly episode of “The A-Team”, I can imagine David Coleman gloating…”I love it when a plan comes together!”

      There is so much to digest in the above link but I thought the below comment by Coleman to be very revealing, considering claims that the Standards themselves are OK as long as they are now decoupled from the standardized tests,

      It is obvious that from the very beginning, these standards were written with the intention of testing them in a standardized way, and Coleman expected the tests to be the drivers of instruction; not the Standards, the teachers, and clearly not the students…

      “But let‟s be rather clear: we’re at the start of something here, and its promise – our top priorities in our organization, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about our organization, is to do our darnedest to ensure that the assessment is worthy of your time, is worthy of imitation. It was Lauren who propounded the great rule that I think is a statement of reality, though not a pretty one, which is teachers will teach towards the test. There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent that. There is no amount of hand-waving, there‟s no amount of saying, “They teach to the standards, not the test; we don‟t do that here.” Whatever. The truth is – and if I misrepresent you, you are welcome to take the mic back. But the truth is teachers do. Tests exert an enormous effect on instructional practice, direct and indirect, and it‟s hence our obligation to make tests that are worthy of that kind of attention. It is in my judgment the single most important work we have to do over the next two years to ensure that that is so, period.”

      Don’t see how any legitimate educator could argue that learning standards which were admittedly written to focus primarily on the “needs” of standardized tests, rather than respect the needs of individual learners, can be salvaged in any way.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Academe Blog and commented:
    One of the pieces of nonsense associated with the Common Core State Standards is the claim that the standards can produce “college ready” high-school graduates–a claim made with almost no consultation with college teachers, the very people students need to be “ready” for. This post, from “Wag the Dog,” provide nice insight into the situation.

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