Righting the Common Core Fiasco
The Boston-based Pioneer Institute has found more chicanery among Common Core cheerleaders and operatives that have received vast amounts of money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates is the largest private funder of Common Core, having contributed at least $200 million. The belief that money is the root of all evil holds true in the deceptive Common Core trick that has been played on the American public and on public school students in most states.
In what the Pioneer Institute calls a “conflict-of-interest derby,” a Massachusetts organization called Teach Plus received over $17 million from the Gates Foundation. This includes stipends for each of 23 Teach Plus fellows who recently released a study recommending that Massachusetts should permanently eliminate its excellent MCAS tests, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, in favor of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. Teach Plus recommends this despite the fact that other states have been ditching PARCC at an alarming rate.
In fact, concerns about the PARCC tests are so serious that among the 24 states and Washington, D.C. that originally signed on as participants, only 12 members remain. Despite being one of two testing developers to share over $350 million from the federal government to create Common-Core aligned tests, PARCC has failed miserably and is being given the boot in state after state.
As the deadline approaches for the final choice to be made between keeping the successful MCAS tests or permanently choosing the untried and faulty PARCC tests, those who receive Gates money are falling all over themselves to keep their gravy train running by endorsing PARCC.
Evidence of conflict of interest was revealed in a recent Boston Herald Op-Ed informing the public that the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) report that recommends that the state should permanently ditch MCAS tests in favor of PARCC tests was written by an individual who is an adviser to PARCC.
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education report states that “MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehen- sive Assessment System) performance is not an indicator of preparation for success in college.” This is despite a 2008 Mass. Board of Higher Education study that “found a strong correlation between MCAS performance and college success.” The Mass. Business Alliance is also choosing to ignore the state’s record of “unmatched success on national and international tests under MCAS.” (Boston Herald, 4-7-15)
The Mass. Business Alliance has received $400,000 from the Gates Foundation since 2010. The MBAE total foundation and corporation contributions for fiscal year 2013 was $455,705. For 2011 it was $278,450. (GivingCommon.org, 4-10-15)
How to Fix Common Core
Massachusetts’ superior math and English language arts standards were developed under the leadership of Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education, who was later on the Massachusetts State Board of Education. She is a Common Core (CC) opponent who was on the CC Validation Committee and refused to approve the standards because she believes them to be seriously inadequate and inferior to other standards.
Stotsky suggests that any states moving away from Common Core and the defective, federally-funded PARCC or SBAC tests, should instead rely on Massachusetts’ excellent former standards and tests.
According to Professor Stotsky:
Massachusetts once had standards that looked nothing like Common Core, were judged to be among the best in the country, and have an empirical record of contributing to academic gains for all Bay State students, as judged by National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in grades 4 and 8, in reading and math, from 2005 on, and by The International Mathematics and Science Surveys (TIMSS) in 2007 and 2013. (Washington Post, 1-1-15)
How can states escape the Common Core boondoggle? It might be quite easy. Any state can adopt Massachusetts’ excellent standards in mathematics and English language arts and create their own version of the MCAS exams, based on previous exams given by Massachusetts and available at the Mass. Department of Education website. MCAS tests, unlike SBAC and PARCC Common Core tests were, in compliance with state law, made available for public examination after students completed the tests.
PARCC and SBAC tests will remain secret even after testing is over, making some wonder what they have to hide. Sunlight and transparency regarding standardized tests are important to parents, students, educators, and the public.