Friday, December 16, 2016


republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
 In the past, I’ve written about the disingenuous information routinely put out by the 
Collaborative for Student Success (CSS) to make the Common Core national
standards look good. CSS is at it again.
 CSS is a non-profit organization financed
 by the same groups that bankrolled the Common Core propaganda campaign —
 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, 
ExxonMobil, etc. In keeping with its raison d’etre of shilling for Common Core, CSS is  
trumpeting state test scores for 3rd-graders to prove that “higher standards [i.e.,  
Common Core] are leading to better outcomes.” Not exactly.
The key point about CSS’s latest claim is that it focuses only on scores from the state Common Core-aligned tests. It doesn’t mention student performance on other tests not aligned to the national standards, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP — the “nation’s report card”). As Erin Tuttle explains, CSS has always claimed to be vigilant about exposing the “honesty gap,” defined as “the huge gaps that have existed between state NAEP scores and what states report as their proficiency rate.” But now CSS is engaging in the same dishonesty it supposedly condemns.
A quick glance at the 2015 NAEP scores of the nation’s high-school seniors suggests why CSS hides that piece of news. Those scores declined in math performance, stagnated in reading performance, and declined in college preparation in both areas. NAEP “college-readiness” scores declined as well. These scores came on the heels of similarly dismal 2015 NAEP results for younger students.
CSS spotlights two states, Delaware and New Mexico, which it says “have seen impressive student achievement gains this past year” on their state Common Core proficiency tests. Just to keep things honest, let’s look at those states’ 2015 NAEP scores.
Uh oh. Delaware’s 4th-grade reading and math NAEP scores declined from 2013 to 2015. New Mexico’s 4th-grade math scores declined, while reading increased one point but was still down five points from the peak score achieved in 2007 (before Common Core).
Maybe things were better in grade 8. But no — both states saw declines in both math and reading scores.
So Delaware and New Mexico, like almost all other states, are seeing their students’ performance deteriorate with increased exposure to Common Core training. NAEP governing board chairman Terry Mazany described all these results as “worrisome,” while a former NAEP official lamented, “We’re stalled … We’re not making any progress.”
But the ever-sunny CSS turns those frowns upside down by ignoring NAEP — a test that, so far at least, can’t be spun — and turning instead to results from state Common Core tests. Student proficiency rates on those tests are supposedly creeping up (probably because, as former U.S. Department of Education official Ze’ev Wurman explains, teachers and students are now becoming more familiar with the tests), so all’s well in Core World. This explanation makes more sense than CSS’s “higher standards and expectations” nonsense. (For a discussion of Common Core’s shortcomings qua standards, see the research papers.)

CSS’s report didn’t include the recently released scores on international tests. Results on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) showed American students are still languishing in the middle of the pack, some 50 to 100 points behind students from high-achieving East Asian countries. Quoted at, Ze’ev Wurman also pointed out that “[o]nly a single U.S. state — Florida — participated ‘as a country’ in TIMSS, reversing the steady increase in such participation that reached eight U.S. states in 2011...” “One has to wonder,” he continued, “if states were not discouraged from participation, to eliminate yet another point of reference to see how the spread of Common Core affected different states.”

So even on a dumbed-down math test (“shopping cart math,” according to Milgram), American teenagers are hurtling downhill.
But perhaps the most disastrous scores came from the international Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). “The U.S. average [PISA] score [of 15-year-olds] in mathematics literacy in 2015 was 12 score points lower than the average score in 2012 and 18 score points lower than the average in 2009 …” Hmm, what happened around 2009? Oh yes, that was the beginning of the great Common Core experiment. So after years of Common Core training, American students’ math test scores are cratering. Great job, Mr. Gates.
What makes this worse, according to Stanford mathematician Dr. James Milgram (one of the few Americans to have seen and analyzed the entire PISA math item set), is that PISA itself is a low-level test designed to determine not who knows enough math to handle college-level work, but rather who knows enough math to stumble through life. In an email interview, Milgram explained that PISA “includ[es] no material that even reaches eighth grade level in Common Core (which would be seventh grade or lower in the higher achieving countries) though I suppose some of the questions that refer to finding the ‘cheaper’ of two packages in a grocery store would probably benefit from skills in handling simple linear equations. Of course, it should also be emphasized that such skills are not at all necessary to handle the PISA math problems.”
So even on a dumbed-down math test (“shopping cart math,” according to Milgram), American teenagers are hurtling downhill.
CSS can’t exactly ignore this disaster, so it recently posted a spin claiming these teenaged test-takers were disadvantaged by not having had Common Core training as youngsters: “the elementary-level education they received likely lacked the strong foundation that the high standards [Common Core] put in place for math instruction.” Right. But some cohorts of NAEP test-takers have been subjected to Common Core almost all their school careers, and their scores are falling as well. As Wurman asks via email, “So when will the – predicted – failure of Common Core be OK to be acknowledged? When our kids slide to be the last in the developed world in another five years?”
When that happens, count on CSS to mimic the Black Knight of Monty Python fame – “’Tis only a flesh wound!” But at least the Black Knight was funny.