If it reads like a script and sounds like a script…

The New York State Education Department has been aggressive with its reform agenda over the last year, including a new teacher evaluation system (APPR) and implementing the Common Core.   The process of adopting the Common Core has been pushed forward at lightspeed giving educators a feeling of helplessness.  Last spring’s state assessments were Common Core aligned so teachers and local administrators were left scrambling to prepare their students for this new curriculum.

Educators had few options as the state assessments loomed in the spring to align instruction with the Common Core. Many districts decided to purchase corporate produced *Common Core workbooks to meet their desperate need for curriculum materials. As the modules were slowly released on the EngageNY website, districts and teachers started to look at the materials provided piecemeal by the state with a critical eye.   Some schools decided to use the modules “as is” since time was limited.  Others pulled teachers from their classrooms for “on the fly” training and curriculum writing, possibly adjusting the modules.  The options were limited, especially in an era of limited financial resources.  Buying workbooks or sending teachers for training is expensive.  Would it be easier to just print the curriculum modules from the engageNY website?

Some districts, schools, or individual teachers may look to adopt the curriculum modules exactly as presented or with minor adjustments.  I hope educators and the parents in their schools take a close look at what I consider to be a “scripted curriculum” that will limit teacher creativity and standardize our children’s education.

I have had a few twitter debates with Common Core advocates about these curriculum modules, including questioning the content, age appropriateness, and scripted nature of the unit plans.  Some of the defenders of these units claim the modules are just “scaffolding” to help students and teachers work from the ground up on difficult material. I will let you decide.

Here is part of a First Grade math unit:

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 7.37.16 PM

Want to see more examples?  Visit the EngageNY website

(next conversation: age appropriateness of content & vocabulary?)

So do educators have a choice? I guess it would depend on the policies of the local districts.  I worry that schools may decide to adopt these modules based on financial considerations and concern about preparing students for the content of state assessments.  Overhauling a curriculum is an expensive and time-consuming task.  The rush to push forward with the Common Core is a major concern I have as an educator and a parent. What will be the impact on a generation of children as we completely change their education without careful discussion and thought?

NYSED contracted with three vendors to produce Common Core Curricula at the a  cost of ($12.9 million).   Teachers will be able to follow or build on the curricular materials produced by these three vendors.” states the press release. Does this imply that the content of the modules and our curriculum has been created by three vendors and not the educators of New York?  Not surprising as educators are no longer treated as professionals in this era of Corporate Education reform. Let us teach and let us create.

An overview of the EngageNY modules.

FOLLOW THE author on twitter: @stoptesting15

*some examples from corporate made Common Core workbooks:







  1. dbpigtail says:

    These units, modules, workbooks, and other names for scripted curriculum must be a nightmare for educators. To have your profession undermined and belittled is insulting to say the least. But it will be the children who suffer most under this horror of a curriculum experiment. Parents need to rise up and say NO COMMON CORE, NO SCRIPTED CURRICULUM FOR OUR CHILDREN! I think we have to be ferocious about it, relentless, perhaps even cross the lines of civility here until someone listens. I personally believe this course of education to be one that ruins children. It angers me, I can feel my blood boil over it. I have the luxury of refusing school entirely for my children, but others do not. We need to keep educating parents! The outrage must become uncontainable and spill over into the bureaucracies that continue to pimp out this garbage. They are the ones who must be held accountable.

  2. litenotes says:

    I’d like to read the script for what the teacher says when the 1st grade “partner” won’t join the group or wanders around the room, or calls the teacher a horrible name, or leaves the room, because the student doesn’t know how to work with a partner or is avoiding the subject matter, or is worried about a storm blowing away their house while they are at school, or an infinite number of other anxieties the child could have. There is a tremendous amount of social support and emotional security that the child brings with them to school that is assumed by scripts like these. In schools with a large percentage of highly stressed children due to trauma or economic insecurity, these scripts need to be heavily revised.

  3. How about the 5th grade module on Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Stories of Human Rights. A 6-8 week module featuring a “close read” of portions of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). http://www.engageny.org/resource/grade-5-ela-module-1

    Some parents in Steuben County (NY) audited a portion of this in a classroom, where it was presented in a pilot program. The students read the “rights” that are not part of our bill of rights.

    Meanwhile, I understand that a 4th grade module addresses the US Constitution in a 2-day segment.

    I cannot express enough how disturbing this is to me as a parent.

    On a related note, all parents should read this history teacher’s response to Common Core. It contains very important analysis and is a must-read:

  4. The elementary and middle school ELA materials are even more insidious. Just look at the materials posted for today’s network team institute. Here we have the facilitator’s guide (script) ! And in module 5B the rationale for changing mindsets. Changing mindsets has little to do with course content. The emphasis is on teaching the standard not meeting the standard through what is taught. Scary stuff.


  5. This amounts to little more than the building blocks of an Oligarchy. The same corporations who are cashing in on CCS are the ones pushing for Charters, the ones pushing for Temp Teachers like TFA, and Home Computer Based Education where no teacher is required. These are all steps to completely take over the education system in the US for means of creating a perfect slave labor force. CCS takes all creative thinking and imagination out of education and teaches children how to follow instructions on a test and that’s it, no life skills, history is nominal, art and music are dying, and the average mean of this countries level of education has not budged in 10 years even with GREAT programs like NCLB and RTTT. This is another corporate sponsored way to make money off of our children and train them to be mindless minimum wage workers.

    This is the new America unless we take our country back from the top 1%


  6. At my school the administration gave the entire faculty a paperback book called “RIgor” so we could read how to create it. Did anyone else get such a “gift”?

  7. Reblogged this on 70jamsession and commented:
    Thank you, Chris Cerrone: The “Parentucator.”

    As Diane Ravitch has continued to plead, these Common Core Standards are not research-based and have not been proven effective by any brain-based research, for instance.

    Why then is there SO much hype over these standards? Come on! $$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Why are teachers then utilizing the standards and “reading the scripts?” FEAR!

    Parents and community members, teachers and our students NEED YOU to become informed.
    Is “a script” — and only one script — really the most effective method of educating your children?

    Teachers and administrators, our profession NEEDS YOU to write letters of your experiences to local media outlets. Voices need to be heard.

    Thank you.

  8. Excellent analysis of the scripted modules Chris! I actually LAUGH OUT LOUD when I read the script. I have heard fifth grade teachers say that in their scripts it says: T: As you learned in third grade…..
    Well, they didn’t learn it in third grade because there wasn’t a module or CCSS when they were in third grade! The script is the most insulting thing I have seen in a long time.


  1. […] included the inane task of making 50 dots to represent multiplying by tens).  EngageNY contains scripted curriculum modules at a price of $12.9 million for the K-8 […]

  2. […] forced to used these scripted lessons were further disappointed when some of the modules were not completed when […]

  3. […] modules for Common Core alignment. Many educators from around New York see these modules as a scripted lessons and curriculum, but will schools and districts urge or force their teachers to use these units from […]

  4. […] I have been looking through the new Common Core aligned modules on the New York State Education Department’s EngageNY website as the folks in Albany have been constantly promoting the new curriculum.  I have produced two reactions recently to my suspicions that these high priced modules are nothing more than a scripted curriculum. […]

  5. […] Click here to read the entire post via If it reads like a script and sounds like a script… | Schools Matter at The Chalk Face […]

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