What’s Wrong with Arizona’s Common Core Standards? (AKA ACCS)

First, to clarify, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards (ACCS) are identical, except for the name.  Governor Jan Brewer renamed CCSS last year through Executive Order 2013-08, perhaps to give the impression that Arizona had something to do with their development.  In fact, there was one University of Arizona college professor, William McCallum, who assisted in writing the Math standards.    

There has been much controvery surrounding Common Core.  See the links below this article to read more about it.  Currently, there are 3 bills making their way through the Arizona State Legislature which, by the time you read this article, may or may not have survived to reach Governor Brewer’s desk.  These bills are:  SB1395SB1396, and HB2316.  If you want to know how to contact the appropriate legislators to encourage them to vote YES to these bills, please send Anita Christy an email at anitalchristy@cox.net. 

A few months ago, Ms. Christy of Gila Watch and Gilbert Watch, began asking the Arizona State Board of Education (SBE) some questions.  The SBE answered some of them, but even after 3 requests, have still not answered others.  Follows is the latest email that Ms. Christy sent to the SBE, which should begin to reveal "What’s Wrong with Arizona’s Common Core Standards"? 

March 12, 2014

Dear ADE Staff,

Thank you for your responses below to my questions, and for the attached information that you provided to me.  Unfortunately, you did not answer or respond to several questions, so I have addressed them again. 

In response to your offer that I provide you with specifics regarding the problems with certain ACCS Standards, as well as your continued assertion that “ACCS are not curriculum,” please see my remarks below.

1.  As requested in my previous emails, please provide me with the pre-2010 Arizona State Standards for English Language Arts and Math.  

2.  You did not answer with any specificity what was wrong with Arizona’s pre-2010 Standards.  You state in the attachment that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found the Common Core standards to be an improvement over Arizona’s past standards.  Your link didn’t work for me.  However, I did find Fordham’s assessment here:  Arizona: English Language Arts/Mathematics.

Please note that Fordham gave Arizona’s ELA a Grade of B and Common Core a B+.  They gave Arizona’s Math standards a B and Common Core A-.  These grades were not wildly apart and don’t seem to warrant throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Fordham also gave specific information to Arizona about what needed to be strengthened.   Would it have been too difficult or costly to improve the existing standards?  

I would like to point out that Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the CCSS, offered to help Arizona improve their pre-2010 Standards, pro bono.   Here is the video of the Common Core State Standards Symposium held in the Arizona Legislature on Oct. 30, 2013, where she publicly made that offer:  Common Core State Standards Symposium October 30, 2013.  

3.  You did not answer my question: “Were the Common Core State Standards field tested?  If yes, when and where”? 

It is my belief that the “field testing” is going on all over Arizona, and all over America, and the guinea pigs in this massive Field Test are our country’s children. 

4.  You have stated to me that it would help if I could review the standards and let you know exactly with which standard(s) I have a concern, and how I would like to see a particular standard modified.  Here is one that I believe is inappropriate for Kindergarteners, stated below exactly as it appears in ACCS:

“Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.  A. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others, taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).  B. Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges. (K.SL.1).” (See ACCS English Language Arts K-2, page 22.)

Here is a Math standard for Kindergarteners:

K.0A.A.2. Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g
by using objects or drawings to represent the problem. 

1) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.  2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively.  3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.  4)  Model with mathematics.  5)  Use appropriate tools  (See ACCS Mathematics for Kindergarteners, page 10)

You can teach newborns to walk, too.  It’s rigorous and takes about 2 years.  But if you persevere with lots of practice, they’ll finally walk. 

According to child psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick, the brain of a 5-year old hasn’t developed to the point of being able to “reason abstractly” or participate in “collaborative” discussions.  There are many other standards like these.  Who wrote these standards for young children?  Were they subjected to peer review of child educators and child development experts?   Where is the empirical evidence that supports the assertion that these are appropriate for Kindergarteners?  While I am not an expert in the development of a child’s brain, I don’t think the person who wrote these is either.  The evidence from many child psychologists and others is mounting against the K-3 ACCS.  Not only do these experts advise pulling Common Core away from K-3, but they also provide their professional advice on how the standards should be “modified.”  Please see the “Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative” drafted by the Alliance for Childhood

As recently as Dec. 2013,  child psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick gave a presentation regarding her concerns about K-3 CCSS to the American Principles Project.  Here is a link to her presentation Dr. Koschnick presents on Common Core at APP Conference 

In October 2013, Mary Calamia, LCSW, CASAC, testified before the New York State Assembly Minority Education Committee, stating  her concerns about the dramatic increase of incidences of self-mutilation she was seeing since the introduction of “Common Core” (aka ACCS).  Here is the link to her testimony :  Suffolk Forum – Mara Calamaria, LCSW, CASAC.    

Can some elementary students achieve these “floor” standards, as you call them?  Of course.  But will others need to be “remediated” because the standards are inappropriate to their age level?  Is that fair to those students?

5.  You did not address this issue as stated in my email: “ I read that the draft standards were available for extensive public comment before they were finalized.  Where may I find the notification to the public for their comments?  Please provide the draft standards and public comments.” 

6.  You state in your email that “SBE added Arizona components to the commonly developed standards to include concepts Arizona educators and community members felt needed to be addressed in our schools.”  Please provide me with specifically what concepts were added.  

7.  You did not address this issue as stated in my email:  I read that “states across the country collaborated with teachers, researchers, and leading experts to design and develop the Common Core State Standards.”  How do I find this information? 

8.  Regarding your and Superintendent Huppenthal’s repeated assertions that the “ACCS are not a curriculum,”  I suggest that you remove every piece of CURRICULUM from the ACCS.   You have defined curriculum as “teaching materials such as textbooks, reading lists and other instructional materials.”  Please note that  suggested readings and reading lists are embedded into virtually every ACCS.  Appendix B*, which is referenced in several ACCS documents is literally a Reading List. 

You have stated, “The difference between academic standards and curriculum is important to note here. Standards are learning expectations, basically WHAT a student needs to know; while curriculum is HOW the student is taught and includes teaching materials such as textbooks, reading lists and other instructional materials.”  

You have stated, “Curriculum, as a whole, is the organized preparation and plan (including materials) of HOW the academic state standards will be taught. In Arizona decisions regarding curriculum are the purview of local school boards and local education agencies. Curriculum is a carefully constructed program or blueprint of learning that builds a plan for effective teaching and learning from the expectations set in the academic standards. Governing boards are required to adopt at a public meeting the course of study, the basic textbook, supplementary materials and teaching aids for each course before it is implemented (ARS §15-721 & §15-722). This also includes any printed instructional materials and digital content. Statute also requires all meetings of any committees convened for the purposes of textbook review and selection be open to the public and make potential textbooks available for public review for at least sixty days prior to formal selection.”

You have stated, “Decisions about how to teach the standards (e.g. curriculum, tools, materials, and textbooks) are left to local decision-makers who know their students best. 

I couldn’t agree with you more!  

Please REMOVE all Curriculum from the ACCS.  That should be easy, since you have stated, “The SBE retains the authority to modify the standards to address the needs of Arizona’s students and schools; the SBE did not cede any authority to another state or national entity. “  Good!   

You may respond, “The curriculum that is included is only “suggested.” 

If that is your response, then you are ignoring the magnitude of this confusion and are instead choosing the path of arrogantly lecturing those who have legitimate complaints about these “STANDARDS WITH CURRICULUM.”  It is misleading and disingenuous to include within the Standards the very materials that you state are not included in the Standards.

Again, I would be most appreciative if you could please send me the pre-2010 Standards.   

Anita Christy
Payson, AZ

*Appendix B contains nothing but Curriculum (as defined by SBE).  It is referenced and suggested in all of these documents that appear on the ADE website: http://www.azed.gov/azccrs/files/2013/11/azccrs-ela_literacy-k-12-standards-final11_03_2013.pdf,  http://www.azed.gov/azccrs/files/2013/10/azccrs-3-5-ela-standards-final10_28_13.pdfhttp://www.azed.gov/azccrs/files/2013/10/azccrs-6-8-ela-standards-final10_28_13.pdf,  http://www.azed.gov/azccrs/files/2013/10/azccrs-9-12-ela-standards-final10_28_13.pdf, in addition to http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf.

Here is Appendix B, which contains almost 200 suggested texts, dramas, plays, informational, and additional readings.  These are not standards.  http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf.  At least two of the “suggested” readings contain graphic sexual acts, so graphic in fact that no respectable government entity would allow them to be read in a public meeting.  And yet, the Arizona State Board of Education apparently has no policy with regard to a standard of decency when it comes to that which is deemed “appropriate” reading materials for children aged 16 and 17.  See The Bluest Eye, which contains graphic depictions of a child being molested and raped by a pedophile who thrills to the “bolt of desire running down his genitals and the softening of his anus.”  (WARNING:  Graphic) Common Core Approved Child Pornography

See Dreaming in Cuban to read graphic descriptions of the sex acts between teenagers.  Subject:  Porn at Buena Vista High School in Sierra Vista, AZ  


From: ADE Inbox [mailto:ADEINBOX@azed.gov]
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2014 4:41 PM
To: anitalchristy@cox.net

"Good Afternoon Anita:

Thank you for sharing your concerns related to the Arizona Common Core Standards (ACCS). Beginning in 2005, state education leaders and governors began to come together around the idea of developing more rigorous, shared academic standards. These discussions began to address concerns about the growing numbers of high school graduates needing remediation in college or additional training to perform basic workplace skills. After several years of discussions and research, new education standards were developed, with full participation from our experts here in Arizona; in fact, the lead developer of the math standards is a professor at the University of Arizona. The State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the college and career ready standards in 2010, in compliance with Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §15-203, to provide a rigorous education and college and career preparedness for Arizona’s K-12 students. The SBE added Arizona components to the commonly developed standards to include concepts Arizona educators and community members felt needed to be addressed in our schools.

The SBE retains the authority to modify the standards to address the needs of Arizona’s students and schools; the SBE did not cede any authority to another state or national entity. Furthermore, neither the SBE nor the Arizona Department of Education has the authority to adopt specific curriculum to be used in neighborhood schools. That authority lies with local governing boards; thereby allowing communities to decide what textbooks and other materials should be used in the classroom (ARS §15-721 and §15-722). SBE adopted academic standards address what a student is expected to learn (i.e. multiplication, grammar), while local curriculum adopted is the tool used to teach (i.e. math problems, reading material) to the standards.

To address your concerns, it would help if you could review the standards and let us know exactly with which standard(s) you have a concern and how you would like to see a particular standard modified.

This link will take you to the ACCS for English Language Arts for K-12:  http://www.azed.gov/azcommoncore/files/2012/09/accs-ela_literacy-k-12-standards-final09_17_2012.pdf

This link will take you to the web page where you can review the mathematic standards for K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12: http://www.azed.gov/azcommoncore/mathstandards/

Also, our academic staff has prepared a detailed response to many of the concerns raised regarding ACCS; please see the attached document.

On behalf of all educators striving to ensure every child has the opportunity to be successful not only in school, but in life, thank you for your interest in providing a high quality education.

Thank you,

The Staff at ADE"

Gilbert Watch Recommends that you also see:  

Arizonans Against Common Core

Stop Common Core in Arizona Facebook

Education Without Representation

Political Correctness Fits the Leftist Narrative in Arizona’s Schools

Student Kenneth Ye Farragut takes down Common Core in Tennessee

Common Core Math: Let’s Confuse Everybody

Building the Machine:  Common Core

Common Core: The Cookie Cutter Curriculum

Response to John Huppenthal’s Common Core Name Change

Showdown in Show Low: Common Core State Standards

Common Core Math: Ugh!

Heber-Overgaard Schools Governing Board votes NO to Signing the Common Core Declaration

One Arizona teacher of American History considered the ACCS "suggested readings," and had this to say in her white paper analysis:  "The thorns of America’s past teach us and warn us of the horrors of discrimination and inequality,lessons we do not want to repeat and should not repeat.  However, if the thorns are the primary lesson taught to the students, are they even going to fully recognize the precious aroma and beauty and of the freedoms they have and what it took to create the foundation on which all of our liberties rest"?  See How the Two Align:  Common Core State Standards and Heritage Academy’s American History Curriculum.