Experts Slam Indiana's Education Standards as Worse Than Common Core

Though in March Indiana became the first state to officially abandon the Common Core standards, both opponents and supporters of the initiative who have been waiting for the unveiling of their replacements are now weighing in on the final version released this week, and most say that, if approved, they could leave Indiana students with standards that are far from the “uncommonly high” set that Gov. Mike Pence (R) promised his citizens.

Hoosiers enjoyed acclaim for math and English standards that were among the finest in the country until former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ (R) decision to champion the Common Core standards for his state.  

Indiana began to distance itself from the Common Core standards last year, however, when its legislature “paused” their implementation. This year, the Republican-led legislature approved a measure that required the State Board of Education to adopt, by July 1, new college- and career-ready standards that are “the highest standards in the United States” and “maintain Indiana sovereignty.”

In addition to the requirement of the development of new standards, the legislation demands that the new standards must still qualify Indiana for a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and align with college entrance exams, requirements that reinforce the state’s ties to both the federal government and to Common Core itself. College Board president and “architect” of the Common Core standards David Coleman recently announced that the SAT will soon be aligned with the Common Core standards, a situation that suggests Hoosiers’ standards may be required to be similar to the centralized standards to comply with the state’s new legislation.

After two draft versions that remarkably resembled the Common Core standards, Indiana’s education officials have generated standards that many experts say are actually worse than the Common Core. In fact, the recommendations of some of the most renowned standards and curriculum experts in the country were totally ignored in the final version of the standards, which will be voted on Monday by the Indiana Education Round Table.

Ironically, the Indiana Department of Education document that summarizes the reports of all the evaluators regarding the first two draft versions of the new standards states:  

It is important to note that the evaluators provided their feedback on Draft #2, and were not asked to provide input on the final proposed 2014 Indiana Academic Standards released to the public on April 15, 2014. By design, it was the Indiana College & Career Ready Panel that was responsible for assessing all independent evaluator input and determining how this input would be reflected in Indiana’s new standards.

We are grateful to the national evaluators for their time and effort. Their input was invaluable to the development of Indiana’s new academic standards, and their feedback is reflected throughout the version released to the public on April 15, 2014.

In an email statement to Breitbart News, Internationally acclaimed mathematician Dr. James Milgram, Professor of mathematics at Stanford University, who was invited to be a member of the Common Core Validation Committee but refused to endorse the final version of the Common Core math standards, wrote after his review of Indiana’s final draft:

So far, I've gone through the three classes, Pre-calculus, Trigonometry, and Algebra II. I will also go over Calculus, Geometry and Algebra I… My conclusions about the three that I did go over was that they are pretty much a complete mess. There are major errors in each; they are repetitive, and horribly disorganized. Moreover, the individual standards are typically so poorly stated that it is almost impossible to figure out what kinds of problems would be appropriate for them. At the moment I would suggest that your most sensible course would be to vote for the old Indiana standards (prior to the 2009 draft). They were second only to California, and I believe that you already have appropriate exams. I might change my mind when I finish the remaining three classes, but the odds of that are very close to 0.

Unfortunately, except for Geometry, which, even though it had both coherence problems and mathematical errors, was otherwise acceptable, both Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 were basically unacceptable.

So I reiterate that my recommendation is that you vote for your previous math standards, which were first class.

In addition, Milgram emailed a prepared statement to Breitbart News that he is sending to the Indiana Education Round Table prior to its vote on Monday. Milgram made clear that he was not on board with the current draft.

He wrote:

The only thing that I could say in my review that was even mildly positive was that “they have good bones.” But that's all. No flesh, just the POSSIBILITY of developing into something halfway decent.

I tried to make it as clear as I possibly could that even this would require an inordinate amount of work on the part of highly qualified people. Moreover, I made it as clear as I could in conversations with the apparent leader of the project that these highly qualified people were not the members of the committee that the Indiana Department of Education had selected to make those revisions.

In my view this was a committee of people, perhaps qualified in other areas not related to mathematics, but not qualified in any sense to handle fixing the mathematical monstrosities inhabiting the current document.

After reviewing specific errors in the mathematics standards, Milgram wrote:

In fact, there are even more errors in the current document than were present in the March 14th document for all six of these courses. The standards for these courses are completely disorganized, and, mathematically speaking, can only be described as bizarre.

But come to think of it, maybe this is a good thing. After all, the same kinds of issues will doubtless come up in other states, and being able to show people actual examples of the kinds of nonsensical things states can come up with would only be helpful. So perhaps for the greater good you should vote to make the current draft your new mathematics standards, and just to be on the safe side include a statement to the effect that you have done this to provide the rest of the country with a dramatic example of what not to do.

Kathleen Porter-Magee, a supporter of the Common Core at Fordham Institute, wrote on Wednesday after reviewing Indiana’s final version of its standards, “Unfortunately, it appears that, in its haste to reject and replace the CCSS, Indiana seems poised to adopt a set of Potemkin Standards – expectations built with a façade that impresses but with very little enduring substance.”

Porter-Magee continued that “the Indiana Academic Standards for English language arts bear a striking resemblance to the Common Core—a clear attempt to assure CCSS supporters that little has changed. In fact, as Achieve noted in its review of Draft 2, ‘the majority of their draft 2014 standards verbatim from [the CCSS].’”

In an email statement to Breitbart News, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of University of Arkansas and with the Pioneer Institute, wrote:

None of the suggestions from over 20 nationally recognized literary scholars and from 4 high school English teachers from Indiana, based on their review of draft #2, made it into draft #3 of the ELA standards, even though the governor and Claire Fiddian-Green, the co-director of the standards revision process, got the report on April 8, 2014, in plenty of time to address some of them for the final version. 

Draft #3 is in worse shape than draft #2, and than Common Core's original standards. And draft #3 is far worse than Indiana's own 2006 standards. Indiana teachers and students deserve better than what they have been served up by the "educators" selected by its own Department of Education staff for the standards-drafting and evaluation committees.   

Emmett McGroarty, education director of American Principles Project, the leading national organization fighting against the Common Core system, commented to Breitbart News on the implications of these new Indiana standards.

“The pushback against the Common Core system gains momentum by the day,” he said. “At its heart are mothers and fathers who are reclaiming control over their children’s education. They are well-informed, and will recognize any attempt to deceive them by trying to re-brand Common Core. The politician who does that will meet his Waterloo.”

 



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