One might argue that the growing concern of parents, guardians, teachers, and school staff members about the implementation of Common Core is tied closely with concerns about the standardized testing that comes along with it.
In answer to these growing concerns “Dr. Liz Fagen wants Douglas County School District parents to know that the Common Core Standards are not rigorous enough for our kids” (emphasis added). In fact, the district often refers to the common core as the “common floor.”
As part of this introduction of rigor, and exceeding the floor of Common Core, DCSD has their own GVCs (Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum) for preschoolers and WCOs (World Class Outcomes) for kindergarteners.
According to the GVCs, our preschoolers are supposed to
“Evaluate evidence to distinguish relevant and non-relevant information to support a position”
“Create meaning strategically in reading and writing”
“Reason abstractly and quantitatively.”
According to the WCOs, our kindergarteners are supposed to
“Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others”
“Analyze the principles of personal well-being”
“Develop emotional and situational perspectives of self and others”
While the prominent researcher in child development, Jean Piaget, explains that abstract reasoning occurs in the formal operational stage at about age 11-12, DCSD’s
World Class System will be churning out 3 year olds who are expected to “reason abstractly and quantitatively” and 6 year olds who are going to be “critiquing the reasoning of others.”
According to DCSD, GVCs and WCOs “surpass the state standards by requiring students to use higher levels of thinking,” apparently regardless of whether or not it is developmentally appropriate or even feasible.
The Colorado Model Content Standards for preschool (which have Common Core State Standards embedded) sure do sound easier. Are they, perhaps, more developmentally appropriate for 3 to 5 year olds? In fact, “the mother of early childhood literacy,” Marie Clay’s Concepts of Print are part of the State Standards for literacy.
- Hold books in upright position, turn pages sequentially, recognize correct orientation (top to bottom, left to right)
- Recognize print in the environment
- Draw pictures to generate, represent, and express ideas or share information
- Orally describe or tell about a picture
- Use shapes, letter-like symbols, and letters to represent words or ideas
- Quantities can be represented and counted
- Shapes can be observed in the world and described in relation to one another
- Measurement is used to compare objects
Here’s where it gets confusing. Dr. Fagen recently retweeted this article, which seems to contradict the rigor of the GVCs and WCOs.
The article supports “ . . . a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play.”
It sure seems that describing early childhood education as “…a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play” sounds more reasonable than the realities of what is being pushed by the upper administration of DCSD these days, which is a rigorous education for Douglas County 3-6 year olds.
- strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
- the full or extreme severity of laws, rules, etc.
- severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity:the rigor of wartime existence.
- a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.
- scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherence: the logical rigor of mathematics.
- severity of weather or climate or an instance of this:the rigors of winter.
- Pathology. a sudden coldness, as that preceding certain fevers; chill.
Are we to think that Fagen believes early childhood education should be “affectionate and supportive” or “rigorous?”
Do we think Fagen understands the real concerns of parents and teachers about Common Core? About standardized testing?
Do we think Fagen might seek to understand through a staff survey? A parent survey?
Perhaps we should be asking, does she care?
It appears the answer is no.