Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Common Core and Kentucky: Fordham says we made a big step up!

In a single year, Kentucky mathematics standards moved from a D to an A-.  We did it by adopting Common Core.

For years, the Fordham Institute has provided the most consistent ratings of state standards, issuing letter grades for each subject accompanied by often biting reviews. In their early reports, before KDE's website became a complete source for key materials they sometimes relied out-of-date Kentucky documents, but in recent years, they've checked the right materials and given blunt assessments to what they read.  

The organization of Kentucky's standards is difficult to understand and often incoherent. In addition, the standards are often vaguely stated. Arithmetic is not identified as an elementary school priority and is developed poorly. The coverage of high school content is variable.
Have I mentioned that Fordham is famed for its blunt wording?

Now, however, the Fordham rating for Kentucky reflects the strength we have gained from working with other states:
The final version of the Common Core State Standards for math is exemplary in many ways. The expectations are generally well written and presented, and cover much mathematical content with both depth and rigor. But, though the content is generally sound, the standards are not particularly easy to read, and require careful attention on the part of the reader.  
The development of arithmetic in elementary school is a primary focus of these standards and that content is thoroughly covered. The often-difficult subject of fractions is developed rigorously, with clear and careful guidance. The high school content is often excellent, though the presentation is disjointed and mathematical coherence suffers. In addition, the geometry standards represent a significant departure from traditional axiomatic Euclidean geometry and no replacement foundation is established.  
Despite some weaknesses, the Common Core standards provide a solid framework for learning rigorous mathematics.
It's worth noting that Fordham did not think the Common Core is better than the prior standards in every state.  Using the same criteria for all ratings, the Institute found that:
Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have math standards in the "too close to call" category, meaning that, overall, they are at least as clear and rigorous as the Common Core standards.
Kentucky was not one of those states.  Here's Fordham's map showing those states and making a clear point: Kentucky made a substantial step up when we adopted Common Core:

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!