Trevor Nadrozny’s Prezi presentation on Common Core State Standards

The Jefferson PTSA was scheduled to host a Common Core (CCSS) presentation this past week, but it got snowed out. I asked Trevor for the presentation materials, and now I have a link to the online Prezi presentation:


The bulk of the presentation is an RSA-like whiteboard animated drawing from (not exaclty sure how to embed that here in WordPress). The transcript is also included below the flash animation.


Buried in the Prezi (you won’t see it if you just click through) is a blurb from Mary Crego of State Farm (, and another blurb from an unidentified woman, both trying to share the positive aspects of Common Core. Also included are two screen shots of web pages that look like progress charts, ala Khan Academy.


For those that would like to attend the presentation in person, it has been rescheduled for Tuesday February 11th 6-7pm (at Jefferson).


Other links: [broken]


New school report cards (Common Core)

Stephanie Stuart announced the new report cards (and “structure”) actively being both developed and implemented via the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE):

The article gives a little introduction and explains some things parents might expect. Stephanie also highlights several things like how the overall graduation rate has increased by about 5 points, how two schools made AYP and how the district is embracing these changes. Note, this is not about the new Common Core report cards teachers use to assess and evaluate students.


Common Core is a funny thing; I think there is a lot of good ideas and a lot of good potential, but I am also hearing that it is being rushed to implementation way too fast. I intend to write another post that delves into this a little more deeply. This post is about the school report card.

I was not able to find the Unit 4 report card on the ISBE website, yet. The state report card is available. Also, the Illinois Interactive Report Card (IIRC) website has been revamped and is MUCH BETTER! I encourage you to check it out – the Unit 4 report card gives you a lot of “fast facts” that are relevant and some (more to come?) offer relatively easy drilldowns for more information:

Here is a VIMEO of the new report card:

The Vimeo video makes  a point in regards to using the new report card to learn about the school climate and learning environment. I found that to be a very interesting idea, yet was quite disappointed when I tried to find it. After a bit of digging, I did eventually find a PDF listed under School Environment that shows the questions and responses to the 5Essentials survey, from both teachers and students. However, not all surveys are available for all schools (I did some spot checking, not a comprehensive search).

Overall, I am very much liking the new version of the Illinois Report Card website. Looking to dive into it a bit more.

More about Standardized Tests

The StudentsFirst blog features an article about Michael Loeb lauding the advantages of a good Standardized Test. I am not going to spend much time talking about that particular blog post; it is an interesting read that gives a fairly balanced, if personal, account from one teacher’s perspective. However, I do want to focus a little more on one of the main subjects of the article, Common Core State Standards (CCSS).


CCSS at least makes for a good sell; the site is attractive enough, got some flashy things going on, talks in generalized, “who wouldn’t want this” kind of air. The “Key Points” sound great, like this quote from the Mathematics page:

The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels – rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.


So where does the rubber meet the road? How exactly are they going to do this through “standards”?


What raised the red flag for me was from the FAQ (you do read those, right? *grin*):

Q. Why is the Common Core State Standards Initiative important?

A. We want to make sure that every child across the country is given the tools they need to succeed. High standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations that everyone can work toward together. This will ensure that we maintain America’s competitive edge, so that all of our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with not only their peers here at home, but with students from around the world.

[emphasis mine]


The first part of that Answer is dead on, I love it! Give people high, clearly-defined expectations and get ready to be amazed. But then the author(s) completely threw away any good sentiment with that last sentence. Instead of going through every word of that statement and ripping it apart, let me summarize by saying that I am utterly saddened that our leaders want us (and our children) to focus on beating everyone else, being the top dog, the Big Kahuna. Why?!? Not only am I not convinced that the price is worth it, I am rather convinced that the price is not worth it. Why would we want to turn our society into mathematic wizards?


At the risk of beating a dead horse, I personally would want to see us focus on life skills that allow people (not merely individuals, but individuals who function in a way that benefits the whole) to flourish in society as a part of society. So now we have Johnny TwoShoes who can bring home 6-digit bacon but doesn’t have a clue why the poor get poorer, nor could he care less. All he cares about is getting what he “deserves” and taking care of his own.


Is that really what you want?