Information Age Education
   Issue Number 109
March, 2013   

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by Dave Moursund and Bob Sylwester, and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education project. See http://iae-pedia.org/ and the end of this newsletter. All back issues of this newsletter are available free online at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.

Common Core Standards:
Some Additional Important CCSS Topics

David Moursund
Emeritus Professor
University of Oregon

This is the tenth IAE Newsletter in a 10-newsletter series that addresses various issues related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These 10 newsletters will become a short book that will be published by IAE and made available free on the Web.

My recent Google search of the quoted term “Common Core State Standards” produced nearly 27 million hits. This IAE Newsletter lists a number of important aspects of the Common Core State Standards initiative not covered previously the newsletter series.  For most of these, I merely list the topic and perhaps give a reference or two. However, for three of them I have provided a short introduction that cites and summarizes a couple of references that I have found appealing.

IAE is seeking volunteers who will take one or more of these topics—or other topics of their choice—and develop them into full-blown chapters. These accepted articles will be added to the book. The Web edition of the free book will be updated to include new chapters. Please send your ideas and/or draft chapters to me at moursund@uoregon.edu.

List of Some Potential CCSS Topics

Here are some additional topics that are well deserving of inclusion in discussions about CCSS.

The Case Against CCSS

There are many people who argue against the CCSS initiative. In brief summary, they present two major cases:
  1. Our educational system is quite good. There is insufficient evidence for the types of changes incorporated into the CCSS initiative. Such changes may decrease the overall quality of our precollege educational system.

  2. Our educational system has considerable room for improvement. However, there is little if any data to support the idea that the CCSS approach will achieve the needed improvements.
The first case is presented in the two articles that follow: Lind (8/1/2012) and Zhao (2/27/2012).

Quoting Michael Lind:

To begin with, the U.S. public school system is hardly the abysmal failure portrayed in the conventional wisdom. The international comparative data is skewed, …

If you look at the facts, then, they don’t suggest that the U.S. public K-12 system is a failure. Rather American public education is a world-class success except among poor natives and immigrants, whose educational challenges have more to do with poverty and rural cultural legacies than alleged failings of public K-12.


Quoting Yong Zhao:

America is on the precipice of ruining its foundation for success. The movement toward a centralized education system through federal mandates and common curriculum and testing is threatening the very system that has contributed to America’s success and that holds the potential for its future success: that is a decentralized, diverse, largely locally controlled education system.



Even without empirical evidence to support their proposals, these new reformers are winning the day.…

CCSS Approaches to Assessment

We all know that timely and informative feedback (formative assessment) is essential to learning. Such feedback can be provided by the learner and/or from external sources. Students can learn to reflect on what they are learning, and they can also do metacognition to analyze their thinking about the content they are studying. Self-assessment is an important component of learning. See http://iae-pedia.org/Self-assessment_Instruments#Introduction.
 
Two other forms of assessment are summative assessment and residual impact assessment. Summative assessment provides information about how well students have learned at the end of a unit or course of study. Residual impact assessment provides information on long-term retention of the knowledge and skills a student has studied in a unit of course of study. Both forms of assessment are useful to students, teachers, instructional designers, and the many different groups of educational stakeholders.

The CCSS initiative is committed to developing assessment instruments that can be used on a nation-wide basis and administered via computer. A number of CCSS assessment resources are briefly discussed at http://educationnorthwest.org/resource/1331. There are two major Federally-funded groups working on CCSS assessment.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Pilot testing is scheduled for February through May 2013. Quoting from Smarter Balanced (n.d.):

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness. Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the 2014-15 school year.


Quoting from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/pilot-test/:

K-12 teachers and higher education faculty from Smarter Balanced Governing States collaborated with content experts to write and review items and performance tasks that appear in the Pilot Test. In addition, Smarter Balanced conducted more than 900 cognitive labs around the country in 2012. Through these one-on-one sessions, students provided valuable feedback on innovative item types, the test interface, and accessibility features. Small-scale trials in more than 500 schools in 23 states also provided critical information for the development of the Pilot Test.


See some sample test items at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/sample-items-and-performance-tasks/.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

Quoting from PARCC (n.d.):

The U.S. Department of Education awarded “Race to the Top” assessment funds to the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC or Partnership) for the development of a K-12 assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics. Florida is a member of this Partnership of 23 states, whose primary goal is to help states dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Together the PARCC states educate approximately 25 million K-12 public school students in the United States.


See some sample test items at http://www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes#7.


Computational Thinking and CCSS

Here is a frequently quoted statement by Marshall McLuhan:

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. (Marshall McLuhan; Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar; 1911–1980.)


Today’s students spend a great deal of their time immersed in the medium of texting, instant messaging, email, cell phone conversations, and using a wide variety of computer-based and/or television-based forms of entertainment.

The people involved in the CCSS initiative are well aware of this new medium. They are designing CCSS summative assessment that is computer-based and adapts to individual students.

However, they are mostly ignoring how important Information and Communication Technology has become, both as an everyday medium for students and as an aid to representing and solving problems in the various disciplines that are taught and/or could be taught in the K-12 curriculum.

Computational thinking is a term used to summarize the routine combining of ICT capabilities and the human mind in representing and solving problems (Moursund, 2011 and 2012). Quoting from the Center for Computational Thinking (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~CompThink/):
  • Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. To flourish in today's world, computational thinking has to be a fundamental part of the way people think and understand the world.

  • Computational thinking means creating and making use of different levels of abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.

  • Computational thinking means thinking algorithmically and with the ability to apply mathematical concepts such as induction to develop more efficient, fair, and secure solutions.

Final Remarks

The CCSS initiative represents the work of a great many dedicated educators. The results of this work will be with us for many years. Thus, it behooves all of us to understand the changes that are being implemented due to the CCSS initiative, how they will affect the quality of education that students receive, how they will impact teachers and other educational employees and volunteers, and how they will impact the publishing and assessment industries.


References

Lind, M. (8/1/2012). Educational reform’s central myths. Retrieved 2/23/2013 from http://www.salon.com/2012/08/01/school_choice_vs_reality/.

Moursund, D. (2011). Computational thinking. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 2/27/2013 from http://iae-pedia.org/Computational_Thinking.

Moursund, D. (2012). Two brains are better than one. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 2/27/2013 from http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.

PARCC (n.d.). Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Retrieved 2/23/2013 from http://www.fldoe.org/parcc/.

Smarter Balanced (n.d.). Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Retrieved 2/23/2013 from http://www.smarterbalanced.org/.

Zhao, Y. (2/7/2012). Mass localization for improving America’s schools. Kappa Delta Pi Record. Retrieved 2/23/2013 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00228958.2012.654714.


David Moursund

David Moursund earned his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught in the Mathematics Department and Computing Center at Michigan State University for four years before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon. See his vita at see http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund.

A few highlights of his professional career include founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology. He was a major professor or co-major professor of 82 doctoral students. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund_Books. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops.

In 2007, he founded Information Age Education (IAE), a non-profit company dedicated to improving teaching and learning by people of all ages throughout the world. See http://iae-pedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell.


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About Information Age Education, Inc.

Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities include a Wiki with address http://IAE-pedia.org, a Website containing free books and articles at http://I-A-E.org, a Blog at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html, and the free newsletter you are now reading.