Comment Now on the New WV Teacher Evaluation Policy

Posted on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

A proposed new version of WV Education Policy 5310 is on comment at the moment (until May 13 at 4PM).

The policy, “Performance Evaluation of School Personnel” shapes the new evaluation process for teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches and service personnel. That process was used in 25 schools last year, has been more widely used this year, and will be in every school in the state next year.

Enter your comments in the online comment form. You can read the policy here. You can see a guide to the evaluation procedures here.

I commented regarding a couple of issues. First, I said that we need the evaluation process to be more easily available – that it should be accessible to teachers at home, not just inside the school building. Currently the various forms (self-reflection, observations done by your evaluator, forms to submit evidence) are only available while you are on a computer inside a school building.

I also suggested some changes to the way self-reflections work and to the way evaluators comment on our self-reflections. Finally, I suggested that there was a need to clarify parts of the rubrics that are associated with the Professional Teaching Standards.

You can read my comments below. They were submitted in box 126-142-9 Educator Evaluation of the online comment form.

The new evaluation process will be unnecessarily tedious and stressful as long as educators can only access their self-reflection and evidence forms while they are physically in the school building. This process needs to either be removed from WVEIS WOW, or the forms in WVEIS WOW’s EMP EVAL section need to be accessible from home with simple password protection.

9.2 An October 1 self-reflection should NOT be the basis for evaluating educations in the Spring, since this process is designed to promote professional growth which hopefully will result in the educator not rating themself the same in the fall as they would in the spring. Policy should specify that educators can update their self-evaluation until perhaps the beginning of February before evaluators indicate whether they agree or disagree with the self-reflection. Evaluators could then indicate by sometime in March whether they agree (element-by-element) with the self-reflection, and educators would know clearly which elements they needed to compile evidence to support for (and which ones they didn’t).

9.3.c The self-reflection asks educators to rate themselves on an element-by-element basis, but evaluators respond on a standard by standard basis. While there is no need for the evaluator to write more (or longer) comments, the evaluator should be required to specify where they agree and where they disagree with the educator’s self-rating on an element-by-element basis. A set of simple radio buttons or check boxes on the electronic form (perhaps labeled “evaluator agrees” and “needs evidence”) would take the ambiguity out of this process and prevent the educator from having to enter evidence unnecessarily.

While the policy doesn’t specifically mention the rubrics attached to the Professional Teaching Standards, those rubrics play a central role in the evaluation process. In places those rubrics are subjective, even vague. Perhaps the most obvious point that needs clarity is collaboration with students. In six of the first nine elements the difference between being accomplished and distinguished is whether the teacher collaborates with students. There seems to be no consensus as to what that looks like at various grade levels, and without guidance the result will be inconsistency between evaluators. That will rob the process of meaningfulness.

(Greg Cruey is the President of the McDowell County AFT.)

Enter your comments online now.

Crafting a School Technology Statement

Posted on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

Roughly what the policy says now…

Students shall be provided the opportunities within the core courses to master the standards set forth in our state’s Technology Standards. Students must be provided sufficient instruction and experience in technology applications to enable them to demonstrate technology literacy and skills to meet the standards.

What I wish it said…

The educational environment needs to be characterized by easy access to technology, leading to comfort with and proficiency on a variety of devices and programs. This comfort and proficiency should be modeled by teachers who use technology to support instruction. Students will be provided regular opportunities within the context of normal coursework to master the standards set forth in our state’s Technology Standards. Students must be provided sufficient instruction and experience in technology applications to enable them to demonstrate digital literacy and technology skills to meet the standards. The infrastructure of a classroom should be such that technology works together with pedagogy and content to infuse and transform instruction, leading to improved student engagement – an environment where students produce authentic, constructive products with technology, often collaborating in the process. These activities should sometimes provide for the prospect of extending the learning environment beyond the normal school time or setting. They should also lead to the development of good digital citizenship skills in students.


Levels of Technology Integration

WV Senate Bill 359 Looks Set to Become Law

Posted on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

I have been following the progress of WV Senate Bill 359 with more interest than usually and a new, special perspective. My perspective is shaped in part by the fact that I recently became president of my district’s local American Federation of Teachers in McDowell County, WV.

The bill is generally viewed as an education reform bill. Some of the contents are innocuously progressive. It requires increased levels of certification for kindergarten aides by 2020, full-day/five day a week  pre-K programs at all of the state’s elementary schools by 2016, changes to the way school districts create their calendars, an increase in teacher planning time, changes to personnel law related to filling vacant positions, and a few other things.

The calendar and the changes to personnel law have been controversial, even emotional. I attended the state’s math conference this past weekend and wore my AFT shirt to Saturday’s sessions. During a break some teachers from Mason County asked me if there’d be a strike. At that time the bill was much uglier than it is now…

Teachers in WV have heard a lot about year round (or “balanced”) calendars. Before Senate Bill 359 there was a legal distinct: WV school calendars could be traditional (which meant that their start date and end date were no more than 43 weeks apart), or they could be balanced (which meant longer than 43 weeks). Balanced calendars had to be approved individually by the state board (I think) and (depending on how they were created) approved by school district staff through a vote under innovation zone rules. If SB 359 becomes law, school districts will be able to make calendars that last as long as 48 weeks.  That would make it possible to start school, for example, on July 15, 2013 and finish the year on June 13, 2014. Spread a teacher’s 200 contract days out over that period of time however you like (except that the most recent version of the bill, I think, includes a provision that prevents school districts from having school on Saturday).  Personally, I think a balanced calendar will benefit my students in the long run. I think the change will be painful, and most teachers don’t seem to think the benefit to students outweighs the pain involved in making the switch at the moment. Most parents don’t seem to be in favor of a longer calendar at the moment, either. The new law wouldn’t require it, but it would make it possible.

Changes in personnel law are more troubling. SB 359 creates a few new pieces of input into the decision as to who gets a vacant position once it’s posted. The term “hiring” gets used a lot in discussing this bill. To me, hiring is what happens when someone who doesn’t work for the school district gets a job working for the school district. But this bill’s changes impact all personnel decisions.

Some changes to §18A-4-7a

After SB 359 Before SB 359
(1) Appropriate certification, licensure or both; (1) Appropriate certification, licensure or both;
(2) Amount of experience relevant to the position or, in the case of a classroom teaching position, the amount of teaching experience in the required certification area; (2) Total amount of teaching experience;
(3) The existence of teaching experience in the required certification area;
(3) The amount of course work, degree level or both in the relevant field and degree level generally; (4) Degree level in the required certification area;
(4) Academic achievement;
(5) In the case of a classroom teaching position or the position of principal, certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards;
(6) Specialized training relevant to the performance of the duties of the job; (5) Specialized training directly related to the performance of the job as stated in the job description;
(7) Past performance evaluations conducted pursuant to section twelve, article two of this chapter and section two, article three-c of this chapter or, in the case of a classroom teacher, past evaluations of the applicant’s performance in the teaching profession; (6) Receiving an overall rating of satisfactory in the previous two evaluations conducted pursuant to section twelve, article two of this chapter; and
(8) Seniority; (7) Seniority.
(9) Other measures or indicators upon which the relative qualifications of the applicant may fairly be judged;
(10) In the case of a classroom teaching position, the recommendation of the principal of the school at which the applicant will be performing a majority of his or her duties; and
(11) In the case of a classroom teaching position, the recommendation, if any, resulting from the process established pursuant to the provisions of section five, article five-a, chapter eighteen of this code by the faculty senate of the school at which the employee will be performing a majority of his or her duties.

Note that items 10 and 11 of the new process are “double weighted.” They each count twice.

So what are the concerns with this process? When I read it I wonder it means that a teacher with less seniority will win over a teacher with more seniority if the faculty senate AND the principal at the school recommend the less senior teach? I also wonder if ALL bids are public knowledge now, since all faculty members at a school are made aware of all bids when they vote on a recommendation.

I’m worried about a couple of implications. First, if I ever decide to bid out of my current job I don’t want that to become common knowledge until AFTER I get a new position. But I don’t know how the faculty senate can make a meaningful recommendation without know who all the applicants are. SB 359 will remove a great deal of confidentiality from the personnel process, I suspect.

Second, I think the new process could lead to a situation where school have the power to insure that when vacancies come open within their building, teacher already in their building get those vacancies – despite the fact that a more senior person at a school across the county wants the job. I don’t think I like that.

Third, I worry about corruption in the process. How much will the principal be able to influence the faculty senate’s recommendation? How often will the district superintendent call up a principal and “suggest” that they recommend a particular applicant?

Finally, I wonder whether my popularity (or lack of it) will come to play a more important role than my seniority or abilities in determining my chances of getting a new position within my school system.

When I started at Mountview High School in 2005 I had a teacher there point someone out to me and tell me that the other teacher had crossed the picket line during the last strike. That strike was in the early 1990′s – a dozen or so years earlier, at the time. People still remembered. I don’t think anyone relishes the idea of a strike.

We should know before long whether SB 359 will become law.

I Need to Blog

Posted on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

I need to blog. I used to blog. I used to write a lot.

After doing it for over a decade, I stopped writing for money about two and a half years ago. The money kept getting smaller, the technology involved kept changing, my priorities got rearranged, and my day job as a teacher kept getting more and more demanding. So I stopped.

I’ve always done some writing, though, just because. And I suppose that sort of writing moved to Facebook and Twitter.

There are a number of things I should be blogging about:

  • My state’s accrediting body for public schools (the West Virginia Office of Education Performance Audits – or OEPA) is coming to my school in the next few weeks. I could blog about that.
  • I have been trying to flip my intervention classroom. I could write about that.
  • I’m helping to integrate iPads into some of my school’s classrooms and curricula. I could write about that.
  • My state seems to be on the verge of a number of major policy changes in education. I could write about that.
  • And my school is in its second year on a new evaluation process for teachers. It’s not very transparent, and I’ve tried hard (but failed) to get information about EXACTLY how it works. I suppose I could continue to write about that.

We’ll see how well I do…

Year Round School (the “Balanced Calendar”)

Posted on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

School calendars have suddenly become a hot topic.

West Virginia used to have a fairly rigid set of rules for making school calendars. But in 2010 the law was changed in response to one of the worst winters in memory. The goal at the time was to make sure that each school district could get in 180 days of instruction no matter how much it snowed in a given year. Two years down the road, county school superintendents are discovering that they have new options when it comes to the shape of their school system’s calendar. One trend is to start school earlier than ever before. Some school systems are now starting their classes in early August. Ultimately, the school calendar really only faces one obstacle to flexibility: the service personnel contract for cooks and aides, custodians and bus drivers in the school system can only be 43 weeks long.

Unless the school system adopts a year round calendar.

Year around calendars, sometimes also called balanced calendars, give school districts an exemption from the 43 week rule. In West Virginia, a school district has to submit a proposal to the state’s Department of Education and have it approved before they can implement a balanced calendar.

There’s been a lot of research in the last few years about year-round schooling. Because much of the research is recent, the verdict is still out. The scientific community hasn’t yet reached a consensus on the issue. A couple of things are clear, though. One is that summer regression hurts students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds much more than it hurts students from middle-class families.

Summer regression is the idea that students lose some of what they learn over the summer break. Students from middle-class families tend to engage in educational activities during the summer. They read books. They go to museums. They travel. On the other hand, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds tend to do much less of these sorts of things, and as a result they lose some of their skills and knowledge over the summer that middle-class students retain.

While research on summer regression dates back several decades now, not much research on year-round calendars as a solution to summer regression took place until the last a few years.

A few trends exist in the current research. First, if a study compares two school systems based on their calendars alone over the course of a single year, not much change or progress in academics is seen. That makes sense, since the theory behind a balanced calendar is that it helps to do away with summer regression and in studies of this nature summer regression isn’t measured. Longer-term studies that covers several years tend to show that a balanced calendar brings some academic benefit. The biggest academic benefit comes in studies where a balanced calendar is combined with other forms of intervention or innovation. And this is especially true when the study controls for economic status – comparing middle-class students economically disadvantaged students.

In other words, emerging research seems to be saying that school systems can close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students by adopting a balanced approach, combining a year around calendar and implementing other forms of intervention

How do we get the year-round calendar West Virginia? Recently inactive legislation on county-wide innovation zones require that school districts hold a staff buy-in vote to enact new innovations. While are year-round calendar would require a staff vote if implemented under the innovations zone law, existing laws on year-round schooling in West Virginia date back almost a decade.

I’ve heard a number of people say that there has to be a vote among school system staff before we can have a balanced calendar. I take this to mean that they can’t imagine a world in which a vote wouldn’t take place (kind of like saying that the Lions CAN’T beat the Steelers – I mean, who can image that!). But the truth is that there’s no LEGAL requirement to hold a vote for a balanced calendar UNLESS it’s proposed under the new innovation zone law.

I recently (on Feb. 22) sent the following question to a WVDE office: “Can you tell me, is a school district required by code or policy to have a buy in vote among employees before moving to a balanced calendar?”

Here’s the answer I got: “I wasn’t sure about your question so I spoke with Joe Panetta, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services. Mr. Panetta indicated that although most countieshave a calendar committee to obtain staff input, there is no requirement to doso. The only requirement is approval of the calendar by the county Board. That being said, staff input is clearly recommended, particularly on substantial calendar changes.”

I hope my school system eventually enacts a balanced calendar. It would be good for our kids. The discussion at the moment is whether to have an early state for next year (and let out in mid-May) or a traditional calendar (and let out in June). If we have a long summer before implementing a balanced calendar, it will be two years before we see the positive effect of that innovation. Hopefully, we won’t have an early start calendar next year. We’ll see…

WV Legislative Update

Posted on March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized by gregcruey  Tagged

With the West Virginia legislative session over, I’ve been looking around to see if I could find anything on what education bills passed this session. It’s been hard to find much on the issue, but a I’ve uncovered a few things.

I’ll start with what did not pass: House Bill 2757. The bill would have required teacher evaluations for every teacher, every year. At the moment, West Virginia principals have the discretion to do a formal professional evaluation on a teacher whenever they want. There’s a routine of five minute classroom walk-throughs and other administrator-in-the-classroom tasks that take place very regularly to help a principal decide that there is a need for more formal evaluation. Two evaluation s a year are required on teachers in their first three years and one a year is required on teachers in year four and five. So why the bill? Money. The every-teacher-every-year evaluation law is a required component of Race to the Top funding. The House and the Senate passed different bills this year and then failed to reconcile them. While teacher evaluations need to become more meaningful, my personal hope is that Race to the Top will go away before we manage to get this law passed.

Bills that did pass:

  • House Bill 3225 expands the state code on bullying and harassment to include electronic communication.
  • Senate Bill 228, which requires a Local Solution Dropout Prevention and Recovery Committee to “develop a comprehensive statewide student data system, establish pilot sites to test individual statewide student data system and promote the growth of dropout prevention and recovery pilot projects.”
  • A teacher pay raise of $1448.

Teaching: Are you in it for the money?

Posted on February 11, 2011 in Uncategorized by gregcruey  Tagged

Teaching: Am I in it for the money? What a silly question. Of course I am. I mean, why does anybody work?

I saw an article on teacher pay recently in the Charleston, WV Daily Mail. The headline: Teacher pay more than median income. And, well, in West Virginia teacher pay really is more than the state’s median income. The author, Zack Harold, front loads his article with that comparison (teacher pay v. median income) and points out that when viewed in that light teacher’s in West Virginia are the third best paid in the nation. They average 122% of the state’s median income. Only in New York and Arkansas do teacher see better pay – as compared to their state’s median income.

Harold’s article provides fodder for anyone willing to ask what his point is. He never quite says that teachers in West Virginia should shut up and take what they get. If that’s his point, then putting teacher pay in the context of the New York-West Virginia-Arkansas framework is insightful. Which of these three things is different? New York ranked 15th in median income among US states in 2009; Arkansas ranked 48th (higher than only Mississippi and, you guessed it, West Virginia). Teachers make more than the state’s median income in New York because New York values education and can afford to pay for it. Teacher make more than the state’s median income in Arkansas and West Virginia because the median income is so low in those states that paying teacher a reasonable salary requires paying them more than the median income. That’s a valuable investment in those states when you consider that education is an integral part of the path out of poverty.

People sometimes think of being a teacher as a calling. While individuals may think of it however they please, teaching is a profession. Before I became a teacher I spent ten years in a volunteer service organization – a Christian missions agency, where I raised money and paid them for the privilege or working for them – in places like Thailand, Indonesia, and some of the smaller islands in the Pacific. That was a calling. While teaching might rank high on some scale meant to measure the nobleness of service work, people still expect to be paid for doing it.

I’m in it for the money. Most teachers I know are in it for the money. But I don’t know anyone who’s in it for just the money. If money was my primary concern, I’d sharpen my computer skills a little more and go into search engine optimization, programming, web design, or something else related to IT. I teach because I enjoy impacting lives. I like watching first graders sound out new words and learn to really read. Kindergarten math is exhilarating. And teaching third graders to organize their thoughts so they can write a composition is a fulfilling experience.

After eleven years of college, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to expect to be paid relatively well if I’m good at those things. Even in West Virginia…

A New Position? Maybe…

Posted on February 6, 2011 in Uncategorized by gregcruey  Tagged

If the rumors are true, tomorrow every school-based Title I job in my county’s school district will be posted. And I plan to bid on some of them (maybe all of them). If I happen to be the most senior applicant for one of the positions, I’ll cross that usually impenetrable line between Special Education and Title I to assume a new position in August – possibly (hopefully) at the same school I work at now. Possibly…

If you work in education, you’re probably wondering what cataclysmic event resulted in every Title I teaching position coming open at once. After nine years of direct state control, our newest superintendent (who comes out of a special education background) has decided to restructure our districts approach to Title I. For the past few years we’ve had three primary school-based Title I jobs:

  • the Early Literacy Facilitator (ELF) who coached teachers on reading instruction, maintained Title I records, performed some light-weight administrative tasks, perhaps did some DIBELing, and perhaps taught some intervention classes

  • The School Improvement Facilitator (SIF) who also did some coaching (in math instruction) and provided support and intervention in the classroom for math instruction

  • The Title I teacher who was mostly an interventionist – sometimes working with math and sometimes with reading, sometime in the general ed classroom and sometimes with a pullout model.

Under the new model every school will have a facilitator who deals with, a Title I reading teacher, and a Title I math teacher. I’ve heard that some schools will have more than one reading and/or math person, depending on the size of the school. We’ll see exactly what certifications those jobs require and how many are at which schools when the postings go up.

When I entered public education at the age for 43, becoming a special education teacher was the path of least resistance. The path to certification in that field was straightforward and because of shortages in the field it was possible to work after completing a few minimum requirements and finish your certification after you got hired. Six years later, now certified in a variety of fields, I have to decide what I want with a variety of options on the table.

The incentive to make the move to Title I is reinforced by the fact that Title I teachers next year will have a 215 day contract, while general education and special education teachers will only work 200 days. For me, that means a 7.5% pay bump. As a career changer who moved to public education late in the game, most of the people around me on the pay scale are in their late 20’s. That makes the pay bump hard to ignore.

We’ll see what the jobs look like when they’re posted. While this is largely just a personal post, the interesting thing about considering a Title I job in the current environment is that no one is quite sure what Title I will look like if Congress reauthorizes (and alters) ESEA. And how many Title I jobs will disappear next year if Congress decides that education is a low hanging fruit in the budget fight that looks to be looming? Perhaps I’ll talk about those things sometime soon…

A Cynic’s View of Accountability

Posted on September 25, 2010 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

I found out something recently that made me reevaluate my view of accountability. Let me put down some groundwork…

Accountability is a buzz word that took on increased importance with the passage of No Child Left Behind. The idea was that we would hold schools accountable for the education of children. We were going to set a minimum standard for “mastery” in core subject areas and insist that absolutely every single child be brought up to that level of mastery in the core academic areas – reading, math, social studies and science. Mastery was going to be a bare minimum requirement, not some lofty place in the academic stratosphere. Not every student had to achieve excellence or be distinguished. We just had to get them up to that minimum level of proficiency.

That sounds reasonable. It least it sounds reasonable to laymen. It sounds reasonable to people who have never worked with children with disabilities. It sounds reasonable to people who’ve spent their lives in suburbia and never dealt with a community where 25 percent of the adults don’t have the literacy skills necessary to read a newspaper. It sounds reasonable to people who value education, and who have never spent time in a classroom with kids whose parents really don’t see the point of staying in school after you’re old enough to work.

Yes, it sounds reasonable.

Since that law was enacted, we’ve slowly taken steps toward making schools measure up to that. One year we’ve required that they get 60% of students up to that new bar (mastery, of basic proficiency); the next year we’ve asked them to make it 65% and then 70% the year after that. The exact details have varied from state to state. If they didn’t achieve the goal, we talked about them being a school that did not make AYP (adequate yearly progress).

I’ve been skeptical. Call me a curmudgeon, but I suspect there will always be a handful of kids who don’t demonstrate proficiency on the test (even though they could), and another small group of kids in any given year who don’t achieve proficiency because, well, they aren’t proficient. Why aren’t they proficient? Maybe it’s because they are on a new medicine that clouds their thinking (I was on Phenobarbital for a while in high school as a treatment for my epilepsy). Maybe it’s because a parent died, or because they’ve moved three times during the school year. The life of a child is often bigger than school. I rarely meet educators who sincerely believe that the day will come when their school can get every kid to demonstrate basic mastery on the test that year.

So I was a skeptic. Skepticism is healthy. It’s the foundation of science. I was skeptical about the validity of the tests being used for high stakes, end-of-year testing. And my state has been changing the test. Our current test has been in place two years. It’s probably too early to decided that it really measures what we hope it measures. And I don’t think we’re keeping it (since we’ve adopted the Common Core Standards in some content areas). I could go on and talk about the test’s reliability, but we’ll leave it there.

Here’s the thing… Education has been changing in an effort to move kids toward that target: mastery (or proficiency). The test has changed, approaches to instruction have changed, programs have changed. We have “interventions” now. Technology is much more pervasive than it was a few years ago. Teachers bump into consultants in the hallway and bathe in pools of professional development. We’re trying to reach the target.

I heard this month that mastery is being redefined in my state for this year’s test. Students who achieved mastery last year with a score of X can score X+10 or X+15 this year and will only achieve partial mastery with that improved score on the same test.

In other words, they’re moving the target. I’m sure they’ve done it before, but I didn’t “get it” then.

Suddenly, accountability seems like it’s all just smoke and mirrors to me. It’s one thing for the administrators on up the food chain from me to hold my school’s feet to the fire and tell us that more of our kids have to demonstrate mastery. It’s something else for them to add that they’ve changed their minds about what mastery is.

Now I’m trying to prevent my healthy skepticism from turning into cynicism. Because it really just seems like smoke and mirrors.

Common Core Standards a Threat to Democracy? Maybe…

Posted on August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized by gregcruey

Hyperbole is common in elementary school. Kids tell you that they’re starving, that homework is torture, and that their teacher is a dictator. Hyperbole becomes easy to recognize. You smile at it…

It’s different when you hear hyperbole coming from the mouth of an adult. I recently came across an article in EdWeek on the Common Core Standards initiative. William G. Wraga, a professor of education policy and administration at the Universtiy of Georgia, says that two specific blind spots in the Common Core Standards, could “undermine not only the quality of public education, but also the strength of our democracy.”

I’m not an EdWeek subscriber, so I haven’t been able to read the whole of Wraga’s article. The three-paragraph, 228-word teaser that EdWeek offers is the first thing I’ve read about Common Core Standards that got me sincerely interested in them. Since then I’ve spent a couple of hours sifting through content in the blogosphere.

Here’s what seems obvious:

  • The Common Core Standards are being developed in a hurry – a big hurry.
  • There is a lack of transparency in the development process. Some critics describe it as secrecy.
  • The Common Core Standards are being adopted as part of a scramble for Race to the Top money in hard budgetary times.

Another common complaint from critics is that very few educators are being included in the process of developing the standards. (Of course, that depends on your definition of educator. You can get an idea of my definition of the term here.)

How many states have adopted the Common Core Standards already? The Core Standards website shows 35 states and the District of Columbia as having adopted the standards so far.

It also lists Texas, Alaska, and Virginia simply as “not yet adopted.” But Texas and Alaska declined to participate in the initiative’s effort to write the standards. Virginia withdrew from the initiative in March and decided not to persue Race to the Top funding because, according to Governor Bob McDonnell, the new Common Core Standards would be a step back from Virginia’s already-rigorous Standards of Learning (SOL’s).

Ironically, one of the complaints about the standards is that they don’t place enough stress on students being able to evaluate the credibility of sources.

Perhaps my favorite two complaints are that a) the new standards are far too prescriptive and b) the new standards are so vague that states can adopt them, make no changes and claim to be complying with the new standards. Those two complaints seem mutually exclusive (even though versions of both complaints are relatively common).

Wraga’s EdWeek article complains that the Common Core Standards are “compacted,” that the documents don’t recognize the need for an interdisciplinary curriculum, and that it “disregards the role of schools in preparing students for citizenship.” I suppose that might be a danger to our democracy. I’d be tempted to smile and disregard it as hyperbole if the ASCD hadn’t recognized that same trend in education 15 months ago – and written about it in their May 2009 issue of Educational Leadership.

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