Why Common Core is Like Healthcare.gov
Draw a bold line between this piece on the failure of the Common Core initiative to improve math education and the failure of healthcare.gov
(even though the Common Core has nothing to do with IT): "The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change."
This is the sermon that +Mike Bracken
and +Jennifer Pahlka
have been preaching. As Mike puts it, "We don't have a policy crisis. We have a delivery crisis!" We endlessly promote new policies that are supposed to fix everything, but pay little attention to what it will take to actually implement them.
In an In an interview with Charlie Rose, Steven Brill said something similar about the failure of healthcare.gov
in the disconnect between policy and implementation: “The way they managed this program, it was almost as if they thought that actual governing, the nuts and bolts of governing, is for peons. And they are policy people.” (See http://linkd.in/1o0RSOj
In this particular case, there is little or no teacher training, no supervision:
"The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them...."
"With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers."
By contrast, Japan took not just the ideas of how to teach math better, but also put those ideas carefully and thoroughly into practice.
"In Japan, teachers had always depended on jugyokenkyu, which translates literally as “lesson study,” a set of practices that Japanese teachers use to hone their craft. A teacher first plans lessons, then teaches in front of an audience of students and other teachers along with at least one university observer. Then the observers talk with the teacher about what has just taken place. Each public lesson poses a hypothesis, a new idea about how to help children learn. And each discussion offers a chance to determine whether it worked. Without jugyokenkyu, it was no wonder the American teachers’ work fell short of the model set by their best thinkers. Without jugyokenyku, Takahashi never would have learned to teach at all. Neither, certainly, would the rest of Japan’s teachers."
This is a must-read piece if you care about education, or even just, if like many parents, you are struggling to help your own children make up for the terrible math education they are getting in school.