Thursday, August 20, 2015

Poll: Only 40% of Teachers Support Common Core

A reasonable idea hijacked by the Left

Less than half of Americans (49 percent) and only 40 percent of teachers now say they support Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Public support has dropped 16 percent since 2013, when 65 percent of Americans were in favor of the Common Core standards, according to the ninth annual Education Next poll released Tuesday.

But the greatest change in opinion has been among teachers.

In 2013, 76 percent of teachers said they were in favor of the Common Core. In the new survey, only 40 percent say the favor Common Core--representing a 36-point drop in two years.

The poll, conducted in May and June by Paul Peterson and Martin West of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, asked a representative sample of 4,083 this question: "As you may know, in the last few years states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are standards for reading and math that are the same across the states. In the states that have these standards, they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance. Do you support or oppose the use of the Common Core standards in your school?"

Among teachers and parents, the two groups most directly impacted by CCSS, “respondents who believe the standards have had a negative effect on schools (51%) exceed those who think they have had a positive effect (28%),” researchers noted.

Support for Common Core is down among both Republicans and Democrats. In 2013, 57 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats said they supported CCSS. But by 2015, that percentage had dropped 20 points for Republicans (to 37 percent) and seven points for Democrats (to 57 percent).

Now exactly half (50 percent) of Republicans responding to the survey say they oppose Common Core, compared to just 16 percent of Republicans who were against it in 2013.

Among Democrats, who are the most likely to support Common Core, opposition over the last two years rose consistently, from 10 percent in 2013, to 17 percent in 2014, to 25 percent in 2015.

According to its website, Common Core is “a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics” that have already been adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Four states – Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia – never adopted the Common Core in the first place.

Four other states – Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina – initially adopted the standards, but then later rescinded them. Mississippi and Tennessee have taken steps to do so as well.

Minnesota adopted the Common Core English language arts standards in 2010, but not the mathematics standards.

Proponents claim that standardizing school curriculums across the U.S. will raise student achievement and better prepare future American workers for the rigorous competition they will face in a global economy.

But Common Core has been harshly criticized for eliminating poetry and classic literature, requiring school children to solve unnecessarily complicated math problems, and for not taking young children’s developmental stages into account by asking first graders to do things like “compose and decompose plane and solid figures”.

During the 2014-15 school year, tens of thousands of students opted out of the new standardized tests that align with Common Core. Some school districts reported participation rates of less than 50 percent, which could jeopardize their portion of the program’s $4 billion in federal funding.

Opponents also say that Common Core amounts to a federal takeover of education, which historically has been a function of local governments.

“Adopting Common Core national standards and tests surrenders control of the content taught in local schools to distant national organizations and bureaucrats in Washington,” wrote Lindsey Burke, education fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who called Common Core "the antithesis of reform that would put control of education in the hands of those closest to students: local school leaders and parents.”


Are British schools cheating to give children better grades?

As pupils gear up to receive their GCSE and A Level results, an ITV documentary has investigated whether some schools are taking duplicitous measures to achieve top marks.

Allegations of malpractice by staff at British schools are probed in Exposure: Making The Grades, which airs tonight, after some teachers have accused their colleagues of cheating.

Cathy James, who runs the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work, said the problem is more widespread than many realise.

'We have seen a huge increase in calls from the education sector and a fifth of those calls relate to exam fraud and that's a really shocking statistic for us,' she said.

According to the programme, last year there were 217 penalties issued to schools and colleges, up from 140 in 2013 - a 55 per cent increase. And there were 119 penalties issued to school and college staff in 2014, up from 100 penalties the year before.

Unfair advantages given to students may include giving students too long in exams, providing answers, and a lack of security in the exam hall.

The problem is said to have developed after league tables based on exam results were introduced in 1992, putting more pressure on schools to perform well.

Schools can obtain more financial rewards if they feature highly in league tables, while the jobs of heads and teachers are at risk if a bad Ofsted inspection means the school goes into special measures.

John Nield, a former Chief Examiner for the exam board, AQA said a 'money-for-marks culture' has encouraged malpractice.

He said: 'I think that because of government policy schools, academies are almost invited to manipulate controlled assessment marks in order for them to hit their targets, and if they hit targets they get money.

'There are the majority of schools who wouldn't have anything to do with that but the minority make it difficult for teachers to keep their jobs, for students to get the qualifications that they deserve and the parents to get the results that they want for their students as well so everybody suffers by every single piece of malpractice.'

Teachers who have anonymously taken to online forums to air their grievances say many of the problems stem from 'controlled assessments' which were introduced five years ago to replace coursework.

The controlled assessments are administered and marked by teachers, leading to allegations that some are too generous when marking, or get students to repeat the test until they get it right.

According to the show, one teacher on a forum revealed: 'I'm being told I have to let pupils re-do a controlled assessment in which they have done badly.

'I've also been told to mark it as though it is a draft. This is against exam board regulations. I have raised the issue with the Head but he is refusing to listen to me. Others in my department have agreed to do this so my pupils will be disadvantaged if I don't.'

The show quotes another teacher who wrote in a forum that such cheating is 'rife in my school.'

They added: 'Controlled assessments are little more than a cheats' charter. The work produced cannot be checked in a way that ensures any degree of integrity. 'Over time, this has become out and out cheating, and at the same time, many teachers have convinced themselves that what they are doing is fine.'

Pupils Zac Brown and Robert Holmes said they had to re-do the same controlled assessment when they were studying their science GCSE in 2013.  Robert said: 'I redid the exam at least six or seven times. When we redid the exams it was the same questions same sheets everything was exactly the same.  'I don't know why the teachers were getting us to do it over and over again, I just went along with it.'

Zac added: 'I did think it was a bit strange that we were having to do the same paper over and over again with the same questions but yeah I just kind of went along with it because I wanted to pass my test.'

The school was investigated by AQA - an independent education charity and the largest provider of academic qualifications taught in schools and colleges - and cleared of any wrongdoing.

The school told the programme: 'Following two separate investigations by AQA no malpractice was found of the type alleged. The school cooperated fully with these investigations and will continue to do so.'

AQA said they take allegations of cheating at Prospect School - and others made across the country - seriously.  In a statement read out on the show, they said: 'We owe it to the thousands of dedicated teachers we work with to make sure that no one gets away with breaking the rules. We'd rather lose a customer than risk undermining the value of qualifications that students across the country work so hard for.

'That's why we've taken action against 170 teachers in the past three years when we've found evidence of malpractice.

'In terms of controlled assessments, students are allowed to sit more than one - and these can have common themes, but they can't be identical.

'In the case of Prospect School, our investigators interviewed students who said they'd repeated the same controlled assessment, but the evidence didn't back this up and we concluded that the assessments the students sat were different.'


Australia: Teacher shortfall looms with influx of Gen Y into the profession

THE NEXT generation of teachers will have little loyalty to their jobs with graduates already leaving teaching after being shocked by the profession’s high demands.

In three years, Queensland will hit a significant shortfall of teachers with mature-aged teachers retiring and generation Y teachers graduating to take their place instead, Griffith University Dean and Head of School of Education Prof Donna Pendergast warned.

But Speaking at a Making Great Teachers forum last night, Professor Pendergast said the workforce would experience a huge culture shift with the new generation of teachers.

“The teacher workforce is about to undergo a literal facelift with an influx of new, mostly Y generation teachers, many of whom will not be career teachers like their predecessors,” she said.

“(They) will engage in portfolio careers with little loyalty to employers and without the tendency to be enticed to stay put for career progression.”

She said things like the high demands of teaching, the overwhelming workload, physical and professional isolation, conflict between expectations and reality and difficult initial teaching allocations could often challenge new teachers.

Around 20 per cent of Queensland teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching with Prof Pendergast saying the number of teachers leaving might increase with the next generation.

“That might be a really good thing, having people coming into the profession and bringing energy and interest into the role,” she told The Courier-Mail.

“When they decide it’s not for them then they are prepared to go somewhere else.”

She said the incoming generations were unlikely to “wait in line” for a promotion.

Prof Pendergast said beginning teachers who were “unrealistically optimistic” when heading into the classroom could often be overwhelmed by workload and inadequate inductions.

“One of the biggest things is student behaviour and part of that is because teacher graduates aren’t familiar with children,” she said.

“Some get into schools and realise they don’t really want to be surrounded by hundreds of children.”

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said students did not always appreciate the complexities of being a teacher.

He said it was important students were given the right practical experience.  “It’s about how to teach and preparing for the curriculum, as much as it is about classroom management,” he said.

“Pre-service education is not about how to produce a completely well-rounded professional but it is about how to provide a good start to a career in education.”


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