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Common Core Found to Rank With Respected Standards

Ohanian Comment: Take a look at the foundation behind the core content standards curtain: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Press Release
Gates funds to boost UO's role in nationwide college-prep efforts

EUGENE, Ore. -- (March 9, 2010) -- Developing a set of core content standards to prepare high school students so they can step on any college campus with the academic foundation and skills needed to succeed is the goal of an initiative at the University of Oregon.

Specifically targeted are the subject areas of mathematics and English as well as a set of career-oriented two-year certificate programs.

David T. Conley, a professor of education and founder and chief executive officer of the non-profit Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC), will lead the ambitious project, which is partially funded by a $794,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Seattle-based foundation in February announced a $19.5 million package of 15 grants to develop and launch new instructional tools and assessments to assure college readiness across the nation. Other support for the UO project comes from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

David Conley's Gates-funded Research

Redefining College Readiness
A report prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2007)
by David T. Conley, PhD

Redefining College Readiness suggests that "college readiness" has been defined primarily in terms of high school courses taken, grades received, and scores on national tests. It proposes widening the scope of the definition to include Key Cognitive Strategies, Key Content Knowledge, Academic Behaviors, and Contextual Skills.

Creating College Readiness
A report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2009)
by David T. Conley, PhD

Creating College Readiness announces studies by the Educational Policy Improvement Center of 38 U.S. high schools with proven success in preparing students for life after graduation. The selected schools represent a diverse cross-section of the U.S. education system. This document profiles each school and contains comprehensive and tangible examples of successful student preparation.


College Knowledge
published by Jossey-Bass (2005)(2008)
sponsored by the Association of American Universities in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts.

by David T. Conley, PhD

College Knowledge looks at the disconnect between what high schools teach and what colleges expect. It delineates the cognitive skills and subject area knowledge that college-bound students need for English, mathematics, natural science, social science, second language, and the arts. It offers ideas that high school teachers and that administrators can implement to improve their college preparation programs. For parents and educators, it outlines the knowledge and habits that college-bound kids need to develop before they leave high school.

College and Career Ready
Jossey-Bass (2010)
by David T. Conley, PhD

College and Career Ready explains the rationale and the methods for redesigning high schools to focus on college and career readiness skills. The book offers evidence for why high schools need to change their focus, provides research-backed descriptions of the knowledge and skills today's high school students need, and suggests practical methods teachers can use to enhance the readiness of their students.
Available for purchase from book stores and online.

Reminder: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), who are invited to comment on this research, are not a disinterested party. Here are recent grants from theGates Foundation grants to CCSSO.

  • July 2003: $249,000

  • Nov. 2009: $3,185,750
    Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standard

  • July 2010: $64,628
    Purpose: to assist with the design of the digital learning initiative, market it to the field, recruit applicants and advisors, and process applications

  • NOTE: One reader commenting at Education Week got this. He commented: Yet another example Common Core sponsored advocacy research, paid for by Bill Gates, It is also one more example of Education Week limiting the "experts" they call on to a select group.

    Common Core Found to Rank With Respected Standards

    Education Week

    By Nora Fleming

    The common-core standards in English/language arts and mathematics are generally aligned to the leading state standards, international standards, and university standards at the high-school-exit level, but are more rigorous in some content areas, says a report released Wednesday.

    Researchers at the Educational Policy Improvement Center, or EPIC, a Eugene, Ore.-based research organization, compared the content and curriculum standards for California and Massachusetts; the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards, a collection of competencies and skills for secondary students that complements the state's high school standards; the International Baccalaureate standards; and the Knowledge and Skills for University Success, a set of expectations endorsed by 28 research universities and used by the College Board as a reference in its own standards. The authors wanted to see how closely the content covered, the range of material included, and the depth of that material correlated with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

    While the study found alignment in the topics covered and the range of content between the common-core standards and the five others, the common core demanded a bit more cognitive complexity in some topics, particularly English/language arts, the report says. The comparison standards lacked the depth of challenge in reading for informational texts, writing, and reading and writing for literacy, and, on the math side, in geometry. However, some of the rigor of the common core will be defined by examples of student work and can't yet be measured for depth of knowledge required, according to the study.

    It comes on the coattails of an increasing push at the federal level to ensure students are leaving high school ready for college. The Obama administration's recent waiver plan for the No Child Left Behind Act frees states from some of the law's accountability requirements if they adopt standards for college and career readiness. A bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current version is the NCLB law, also makes that a priority.

    But some experts ask whether having comparable international, national, and state-to-state standards means that the common core makes it more likely a student will be prepared for college.

    "The study continues a line of evidence that the core standards that states have adopted have a solid research base and will help teachers and students," said Chris Minnich, the senior membership director at the Council of Chief State School Officers who led the standards and assessment work at the CCSSO, one of the groups that shepherded the development of the common-core standards. "The next step for states is to ensure that during the implementation of the standards, teachers have the support and tools that they need to teach the new standards."

    Just One Measure

    The comparison standards selected were either highly regarded state standards or focused specifically on college and career preparation and rigor. David Conley, the lead researcher on the project and EPI's founder and chief executive officer, was also involved in developing the IB standards, Texas' standards, and the Knowledge and Skills for University Success standards. Mr. Conley said his center selected the IB, Texas, and KSUS standards because its researchers felt confident those were of high quality and focused on college preparation.

    Still, he said, the report is not meant to measure the quality of one group of standards over another, but rather to test the conclusion that the common-core standards place a strong emphasis on preparing students for postsecondary education by comparing the standards with others that also focus on college readiness. States also shouldn't focus on trying to make sure everything in their standards and all the details line up exactly with the common core as they do their own in-depth comparisons, he said. Instead, they should look for broader correlations. . . .

    NOTE: Education Week complains when I post entire articles. You can read the rest by going to the hot link below.

    You will NOT find any dissenting voice about these so-called college-ready standards. Michael Kirst was invited to comment even though he hasn't read the report.

    — Nora Fleming with Susan Ohanian addition
    Education Week





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