3 months ago by Ben Yount, Illinois Watchdog
Falling test scores open the door for new curriculum
Like a baseball bat to the side of the head, the latest sales pitch for Common Core in Illinois is blunt and painful.
Half the students in Illinois high schools cannot read, write or add at a high school level.
Cocoran said a 50 percent failure rate is unacceptable.
“This is not OK. It’s not OK for business. It’s not OK for public service and it should not be OK for citizens.”
The GE Foundation and State Farm, one of Illinois’ largest employers, are throwing their clout —and their dollars — behind Common Core education standards.
State Farm CEO Ed Rust said he wants better schools because he needs better workers.
“What we still see are limitations on the ability to work together as a team,” Rust said about what he finds lacking in the young workers who walk in the door at the insurance giant. “(Difficulty in trying) to communicate in thoughtful, complete sentences, let alone paragraphs.”
Rust said Illinois’ current learning standards are weak, evidenced by the huge drop in test scores when students were finally graded against the Common Core yardstick.
In 2012, the Illinois Standards Achievement Test — under the old learning requirements — showed 82 percent of kids in third through eighth grades could read, write,and add at grade level.
In 2013 the same test— now using the Common Core requirements — showed just 61 percent of the same kids where they are supposed to be.
Robin Steans, executive director at the education advocacy group Advance Illinois, said it is clear what Illinois students are learning now isn’t enough. Why not try Common Core?
“There is a great opportunity and moment in time here for us to really rethink, ‘What do our kids really need to know?’” The goal is to get kids “college and career ready,” Steans said.
Pullman said there is no common answer to what all kids need to know.
“It is inappropriate and cruel to demand that even most high school graduates attend traditional, four-year college. Intelligence runs on a bell curve, and real college-level academic work at most is appropriate for those on the top third,” Pullman noted.
Pullman had words for GE and State Farm and other businesses backing Common Core.
“Public education should prepare children for citizenship — which also helps them be a good employee, but the latter isn’t the point,” Pullman stated. “Business has no right to demand that education become their free training centers.”