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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela


By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. December 17, 2017 Daily Caller

An international test has confirmed what American parents have been protesting for years about Common Core -- students are being dumbed down.

Since Common Core Standards were imposed on the states, reading scores for United States fourth-graders have declined, both for the average score and in comparison with their peers in other nations. Those scores of the lowest-performing students declined the most. Scores on the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literary Study showed that U.S. students fell from fifth in the world to thirteenth.

PIRLS measures two areas of reading skills: the purpose of reading and reading comprehension. Reading purpose includes understanding plot, characters, and themes and reading to gather information.

The Common Core Standards were a federally promoted public private education initiative during the Obama administration that was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The intent was to narrow the achievement gap between upper and middle class students and those from the lower socio-economic levels.

But that hasn't happened. The gap for America's lowest performing students has widened. Even Latvia, one of Europe's poorer countries, outperformed the U.S.

We can expect Common Core to continue because it was codified in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Peter Cunningham, former assistant Secretary for Communications to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, wrote that ESSA mandates the very thing condemned by Senator Lamar Alexander. “Under the new law, every state must adopt “college-and-career-ready” standards. Thus, the new law all but guarantees that Common Core State Standards—or a reasonable imitation under a different name—will likely remain in place in most states.”

Common Core, with its Progressive teaching philosophy, is focused first on social and emotional learning and next on academic learning. The reading of the great classics in literature has given way to reading informational texts. To further exacerbate this lowering of academic learning is how children are being taught.

ESSA encourages schools to use computerized learning with computer adaptive testing, where psychological manipulation is being employed. Traditional textbooks have virtually been replaced by digital lessons.

Reuters reported that in 2012 technology startups for the K-12 market attracted more than $425 million in venture capital. Rupert Murdoch, owner of Amplify Education, one of the country’s largest education technology companies, estimated that K-12 education is a 500 billion dollar sector in the U.S. alone.

Bill Gates' Microsoft and other Silicon Valley buzzards circling overhead, smelled the strong scent of money and swooped in to grab their share of the goldmine. The result: American public education is spending nearly five billion dollars annually for digital tools without any evidence they improve academic performance.

No one seems interested in the sizeable amount of research that's been done about digital learning – at least not Silicon Valley or educrats who relish being at the helm of the very latest in education reforms – a fancy name for using children as lab rats.

Research shows that comprehension is lower when student read e-books rather than conventional books. Many students indicate they prefer digital text but admit that comprehension is better with traditional books.

Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys show that millennials strongly prefer print for pleasure and learning. Because online reading is usually scanning and skimming, students complain they don't absorb as much with e-books as with traditional books. So they prefer print when they need to "read deeply."

A paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students who used digital devices in classes do worse on exams than those who do not use digital devices.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported the findings of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) about computer use among 15-year-olds in 31 nations and regions. The study, published in 2015, found that students using computers more at school had both lower reading and math scores. The research was conducted in 2012 when the average student across the world was using the Internet once a week, doing software drills once a month, and emailing once a month. The highest-performing students were using computers in the classroom less than that.

The countries and cities with the lowest use of the internet in school - South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan - are among the top performers in international tests. The study shows "there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students' performance improved."

In many public schools, American students use computers daily.

Despite the claim by USDE Secretary Betsy DeVos that Common Core no longer exists, it remains in every single state in some form as predicted by Peter Cunningham. That won't change until we get Common Core and Silicon Valley billionaires out of our schools.

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