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Common Core Standards Praised, Rapped at School Committee Meeting

Critics of the new educational standards included several parents and Barrington School Committee member Scott Fuller.

Barrington School Committee member Scott Fuller, a school principal, ripped the Common Core State Standards Thursday evening. Credit: W.Rupp
Barrington School Committee member Scott Fuller, a school principal, ripped the Common Core State Standards Thursday evening. Credit: W.Rupp

The Common Core State Standards drew significant support and some sharp criticism, including from a member of the Barrington School Committee, at the board’s meeting Thursday night, Dec. 5.

The criticism followed a supportive presentation on the Common Core and the new assessment test, PARCC, replacing the NECAP test, by Paula Dillon, director of curriculum and instruction for Barrington.

School Committee member Scott Fuller, a secondary school principal in Cumberland, triggered the criticism by voicing “personal concerns” after doing his own research on the Common Core. He said his biggest concern is that the new standards were developed without local input and put in place with little or no public comment.

“There were no field tests, there is no evidence, nobody knows if it will work," Fuller said. "We’re a nation of guinea pigs."

"It has not been tried first on students, a school, a district or a state,” Fuller said, even though he knows that Barrington is well into implementing the Common Core.

“I think it is fundamentally flawed by the process,” said Fuller, which he described as “top-down.” 

About half a dozen parents echoed Fuller's comments and stated their own concerns, primarily that the Common Core simply has not been proven and might be hurting Barrington students.

Amy Seigel, one of the parents, said she moved to Barrington for the schools as many other parents have. Barrington students have done quite well, she said. Now they will put to the test of new standards and a new curriculum 

The other four School Committee members, including Patrick Guida, a member of the Rhode Island Board of Education, said they have faith in Common Core – a set of standards that determine what students should know at the end of each academic year, according to Dillon . 

“The standards are guides,” she said. “It is not the curriculum.”

“Do you want the status quo?” Guida asked in responding to one of the parents. “We need revolutionary change.”

“We can’t afford to stay stagnant,” said new school board vice chair Paula Dominguez.

Guida said a group of distinguished educators with support from some this country’s top corporate leaders developed these new standards, which have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. 

"There is overwhelming support of why we should be doing this," he said.

Guida said that each state, including Rhode Island, made the determination to adopt the Common Core. It is not mandated by the federal government. Among the states that have adopted Common Core is Massachusetts, often cited as the state with the highest educational standards and success in the country. 

“Massachusetts adopted the Common Core even with its own high standards,” he said. “They thought the Common Core was better.”

Dillon stressed several times that the Common Core is a group of standards, not a curriculum. Teachers will be teaching to meet those standards in ways they feel work best, she said. 

Dillon also announced that the RI Department of Education will make a presentation on the Common Core in Barrington on Jan. 28. It will start at 7 pm at the high school as a Barrington Education Foundation program.

Lorraine F December 06, 2013 at 07:14 AM
When will the school committee finally admit that the schools are great in Barrington primarily because most parents send their children to school well prepared in their assignments, and on a maturity level. Those in the system want to apply too much significance to the system itself.
Seth Milman December 06, 2013 at 09:47 AM
They already admit this, Lorraine F. The parents' involvement in combination with the excellent administration and faculty is what makes the school system in town so good.
Seth Milman December 06, 2013 at 09:48 AM
The high-quality students are also a big part of it.
Tina Picariello Cottrell January 10, 2014 at 11:23 PM
A bunch of nonsense. What the author failed to mention is that at the end of Nov, the Mass boe passed a motion to slow the implementation of Common Core and reevaluate whether its current standards should be replaced. MYTH: States control the standards. The standards have been copyrighted. They CANNOT be altered. MYTH: Standards were created by educators. Mr. Coleman known as the “Architect of Common Core” –is a lawyer, a lobbyist, and a businessman. Mr. Coleman readily admits that implementation of Common Core would likely never have succeeded if it had been publicly debated; and that the decision to funnel the effort through the Council for Chief State School Officers, a private trade organization, is the likely cause for the successful and covert implementation of Common Core. Neither David Coleman nor Jason Zimba, have ever taught in a K-12 classroom; and neither have previously been involved in development of educational standards for any grade level prior to writing the Common Core Standards. The Standards have never been tested in any classroom or school district in any country. Dr. James Milgram was the only PhD mathematician to sit on the Validation Committee. Dr. Milgram states that the Core Standards are in large measure a political document that, in spite of a number of real strengths, is written at a very low level. Dr. Stotsky refers to the Common Core as “an empty skill set” and “A set of social justice standards.” Both Drs. Stotsky and Migram--the most highly regarded and qualified standards experts on the Validation Committee--REFUSED TO SIGN the Validation Statement attesting to the quality and international benchmarking of the Standards. These are the very experts whose validation Common Core developers recognized as worthy to be sought; and their REFUSAL TO VALIDATE the Standards should be of great concern for anyone considering implementation of the Common Core. MYTH: States adopted the standards. States were asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding promising to adopt the Common Core State Standards sight unseen in return for the right to apply for RttT money or a NCLB waiver. Bunch of crap—people need to do their homework and research before trying to impose their personal agendas. Barrington is a great school system, and while everything can always be improved, Common Core is NOT the answer.

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