Friday, June 18, 2010

Academic Content Standards Commission Meeting June 17

Day 1 at the  ACSC meeting - submitted by Kathlan Latimer
In  case you did not watch the web casting of the meeting, here are some notes.
First off, the work of the commission has been funded by the Broad Foundation and another foundation yet to be announced.  Sac COE provided facilities and staff. Otherwise there would have been no way for the work to be done, apparently. 
On the commissioners' reading list: A Primer on America's Schools by Terry Moe andTesting Student Learning, Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness by Bill Evers and  Herbert Walberg (both published by Hoover Press; copies were donated to each commissioner by Bill Evers).
Greg Geeting was elected chair by acclamation; there were no other nominations.
The day was fairly routine (logistics, introductions, review of Bagley-Keene, and the like) until around 3:00 when SBX 5 1 was reviewed by Sue Stickel. Following the review, Dan Maguire (sp?), attorney for the Governor, interpreted the 85% section to mean that the CA standards could have 85% of the Common Core (CCSS) and CA would add 15%. CDE (Gavin Payne) and Scott Hill (SIA) weighed in with 100% CCSS supplemented by 15% from CA. The latter sentiment was echoed by David Coleman and Jason Zimba, CCSS writing team members. While lauding CA standards, they stressed maintaining the focus and coherence of the CCSS. They expressed the rules, which seemingly diffused the controversy, as follows:
1) "We have a pen, but no eraser. " This is to say that we can add, but not take away.
2) "We can copy and paste." We cannot cut and paste. If we want to "move" a standard to a different grade level that would be allowed, but it would still be tested at the CCSS grade level. This has implications for assessment; unless we wanted to have a separate test, we would need to be in a consortium with similar additions.
Apparently, the writers received input from CA folks around placement of first grade basic facts, long division, and a few other standards.  Additionally, this rule also stirred discussion as it was seen to contradict the possibility of Algebra 1 at grade 8. The movement of Algebra 1 to 8th grade is an allowable exception and is not included in the 15% (nor would additional courses such as Calculus).  CCSS does not preclude Algebra 1 at 8th grade.
3) We can add requirements. We can supplement. The idea of the 15% supplement is to give states the opportunity to add a bit without compromising the integrity of the CCSS. The 15% would not be nitpicked quantity-wise. It is not acceptable to take CA standards and weave in CCSS.
4) Additions do not need to be separate (Referred to as the decimal rule; e.g., We can add a 3.5 standard between standards 3 and 4). 
  High school course descriptions should be available by the end of June.
Tomorrow the commissioners will review side-by-side comparisons of CCSS and CA standards.
Some impressions:
The CCSS writers seemed to want to be CA-friendly by suggesting that the aforementioned changes/moves were few in number and doable and by lauding algebra at 8th grade as if there was already consensus about these things. It seems to me that the placement of Algebra 1 is a larger controversy for this commission than is adding or placement of standards overall.
Sorting folks out as math, ELA, or other, based on the introductions, there is heavy representation of math folks so it will be interesting to see how this plays out (math: 2 MS, 4 HS, 2 Post-Sec. This does not include an additional 3 multiple subjects teachers, although 1 is clearly ELA). Some of the teachers on the panel are fairly new and have only taught using the current standards. Experience ranged from 5 to 42 years of teaching. The Chair seems to be aware of the affiliations of those at the table; at one point he referred to CTA folks. Many folks have or have had some affiliation with Subject Matter projects.  At least 2-3 math folks shared their interest in real life connections, applications, and providing contexts for mathematics. Concerns for equity were expressed by many commissioners.


  1. Thanks for this summary, just a question...what does "SIA" (scott hill) stand for?

  2. I watched the web cast and am very concerned there will be an attempt to make Algebra 1 the required 8th grade course. This is a shame since the CCSS has such a great series of courses 7th, 8th, and then Algebra 1. CMC representatives should strongly oppose this for all the reasons previously discussed.

    Clearly it should be possible for any prepared students to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade, but to make it the only 8th grade course is a terrible mistake. School districts around the state that only offer Algebra 1 in 8th grade end up with demoralized students and teachers.

    Consider that this was a bad idea two years ago and now we have bigger classes and less resources. Let's have a goal to increase the numbers of 8th graders taking Algebra 1, but not artificially impose it.