Ask NOT What the Standards Can Do for You…

Instead, make sure you’re reflecting on just how well you, dear teachers, are promoting the Common Core State [sic] Standards in your classrooms.

Common Core-aligned lesson plan templates are starting to make an appearance, right alongside the Common Core-aligned lesson modules that are infiltrating ELA and math classes across the country.  These templates don’t look much different from the ones we’ve seen before, except for the added, questionable elements (e.g. input/output objectives–bringing tech language into the classroom, but only kind of) that many teachers and administrators are still a little unclear on.

But, here’s my favorite part of the new template, which I found while planning my first full-week’s lessons:

ccss template
Click to zoom

The reflection section (which used to be a place for teachers to think about how the lesson went, what kids grasped or didn’t, how engaged everyone was, and how successful the teacher believed the overall lesson was) has been changed from student-focused to standards-focused.

A friend once told me something that rings in my head when I see this kind of stuff.  When we stop trying to evaluate everything based on teacher performance and start to evaluate learning based on student performance (outside of test scores), we will see great things happen in education.  As you can see, this reflection template has very little to do with how students are doing or how the lessons affect student learning and student lives, and replaces those critical elements with how well teachers are performing to the reform agenda and Common Core Standards.

The very first question asks if the lesson reflects the “shifts” associated with Common Core.  Here are those “shifts,” from the EngageNY website:

Again, click.
Again, click.

The first thing a veteran teacher will notice in these “shifts” is the fact that the good stuff is not new.  However, if there’s one thing that the architects of the Common Core have been trying to sell the public, it’s the idea that teachers haven’t been doing our kids any good.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative truly believes that the standards are the first step in delivering high-quality education.  They say this line while giving us these “shifts,” which are not shifts at all, since they’ve been around for a long, long time.

I really hate the first shift in math.  Narrow the time and energy in the classroom in order to focus only on the standards.  Forget the kids.  Focus on the standards.

Ask not what the standards can do for you; ask what you can do for the standards.

Needless to say, I will not be filling out the template as it is written.  I will be creating my own reflection, and I will be focusing on my kids, not the standards.

Read more about the problems with CCSS in Kris Nielsen’s newly released book, Uncommon: The Grassroots Movement to Save Our Children and Their Schools.  You’re dying to read it!


  1. This is very typical of corporate philosophy. Promote the brand. Do you worry if your hamburger tastes like garbage?. No, just make sure your name is on the bag, napkins, and condiment packs.
    Do I want this around my children? No.


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