Monday, October 12, 2015

EDUCATION - Debate on Common Core Standards

As I have said before, the ONLY problem with Common Core Standards is the TEST, which when used to tie school funding to the results, which in turn forces some schools to spend time teaching to the test to get money.  The results should ONLY be use as a benchmark to see how each school is doing compared to others.

"Bill and Melinda Gates on the political debate over Common Core standards" PBS NewsHour 10/7/2015


SUMMARY:  Bill and Melinda Gates, two of the world’s leading philanthropists, sit down with Gwen Ifill in Seattle to discuss their efforts to support education reform and the political battles over the Common Core standards.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  They have spent $35 billion so far tackling malaria and AIDS and Ebola abroad.

But here at home, their laser focus has been on education reform, which has catapulted them into the middle of a 2016 political debate.

I sat down today in Seattle with Bill and Melinda Gates.

Melinda, Bill Gates, thank you for joining us.

MELINDA GATES, Gates Foundation:  Thanks for having us.

GWEN IFILL:  For better or worse this year, education is a campaign issue.  You can say that is good news, that’s bad news.  How do you see it, Melinda?

MELINDA GATES:  I think the fact that education is part of the public discourse in an election year is incredibly important, because education for us in America is the bridge to equal opportunity.

And so, if it’s not working for everybody, we need to be discussing that as a nation.  So, in that sense, it’s actually a good thing.

GWEN IFILL:  But the discussion is all about Common Core and about whether standardized testing, and however you choose to define Common Core, is the right idea.

Do you worry that the whole issue that you have pushed to support, this idea of raising achievement through standardized testing and other ways, do you worry that politics is obscuring Common Core arguments?

BILL GATES, Gates Foundation:  Well, it is concerning that the facts about Common Core are often obscured.

The Common Core sets high standards for what math, reading and writing kids should learn in high school, and it helps get the progression down, so that even if a kid is moving from state to state, if they’re using online material, it’s all benchmarked the same way.  And if a kid graduates from high school, they will know that they don’t have to go and take remedial classes.

So, it’s a very important advance.  It’s a standard that is allowing for a lot of innovation, where people build elements that connect up to the Common Core.  So, we’re seeing great results.  Kentucky was the first state to go ahead with it.  They’re actually the state that’s seen the most improvement in a lot of their test scores, and even in their high school graduation rates.

So, it’s rolling out.  It’s a foundational piece that will help improve things.

GWEN IFILL:  How did the worm turn on this debate, from so many states adopting it so quickly, to so many people, especially Republicans, saying, if you endorse this, it’s a disqualifying feature?

MELINDA GATES:  Well, I think it’s important to look back.

It was the state governors and the state superintendents who, in 2006, said, this is right for each of our states.  This is what we want, because if these are standards are set properly, we know that our kids are on a learning trajectory to learn what they need to know to be part of the knowledge economy.

So, that’s when it was set.  There has been a lot of political debate about — and people have confounded it with, is it federal control vs. state control?  No, it’s states who are deciding this.  A few states have actually rolled back the Common Core, but it’s interesting.  What they have put in, in place of it is 95 percent the Common Core.  It just is a different word.

But 42 states and the District of Columbia are still doing the Common Core, because they know it’s right.  And more important, quite honestly, than the political debate that goes on is what’s happening with teachers in the schools.

When you survey teachers across the nation whose states have Common Core in place, they say, we like it.  It’s hard to implement, but we know it’s the right thing for our students.  Our students are learning the things that they need to learn.

No comments: