Vallas’ $10m textbook farce means Bridgeport students don’t have Common Core aligned math textbooks

When the Common Core SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) test results come back later this summer, about 7 in 10 public school students will be labeled as failures.

Considering that lower standardized test scores are a result of poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs, the number of children labelled as ‘FAILURES” will be even higher in Bridgeport and Connecticut’s other poorer cities and towns.

And while the Common Core SBAC test requires students to meet the Common Cores standards, it now turns out that the new textbooks students in Bridgeport and other Connecticut communities have been given are not appropriately aligned to those Common Core standards.

In Bridgeport the problem stems from a massive contract that education reformer extraordinaire and faux Bridgeport superintendent of schools Paul Vallas rushed through without proper oversight and signed on June 12, 2012.

Vallas, the darling of both Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, signed a contract with the Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt publishing company that committed Bridgeport to a $10 million deal in which payments were spread out over 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The contract was for 90,000 new textbooks, instructional materials, testing software and training for teachers on how to utilize the various materials.

Although the problems with the “Textbook Deal” were evident from the beginning [See Wait, What? Post], it turns out the situation is much, much worse than initially reported.

Vallas purchased the new textbooks claiming they were needed in order to prepare Bridgeport students to meet the Common Core Standards

However it is now clear the textbooks Vallas ordered fail to meet those standards.

Edreports is a new non-profit organization that is  funded – of course – by the Gates Foundation and other education reform foundations and was created to review whether the textbooks that are being used by the nation’s public school are aligned to the Common Core.

Vallas ordered Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math in Focus Program, a package that included textbooks, printed and electronic instructional content and training for teachers.  The cost to Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers for the math curriculum products was well in excess of $3 million.

But as reported by Education Week, the Washington Post and other media outlets, Edreports has determined that the Math in Focus series DOES NOT MEET the Common Core standards.

After a complete review of each of the math textbooks that is part of the Math in Focus program, Edreports’ review included the following observations.

The materials are not coherent or consistent with the standards.”

“Correct math vocabulary is not consistently used throughout the text.”

“There is not enough content for one school year.”

“Teachers using the materials would not be giving their students extensive work in grade-level problems.”

“Overall coherence and consistency of the standards is not achieved.”

“The materials do not provide a focus on the major work nor are the materials coherent.”

And the list goes on…

For details go to: http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus.html and http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus-a.html

The news is more than a bit disturbing.

While their textbooks are not aligned to the Common Core standards, students in Bridgeport (and across Connecticut) are expected to take and pass the SBAC Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test, a test that is already designed to fail up to 70 percent of all students…and that assumes that students have actually been taught the materials they are being tested on..

Incredibly, the textbooks that Paul Vallas purchased aren’t the only ones to fail the review, which means public school children across Connecticut and the nation are being taught with textbooks that don’t prepare them for the Common Core testing program.

As Education Week reported in an article entitled, “Most Math Curricula Found to Be Out of Sync With Common Core,”

The first round of a Consumer Reports-style review for instructional materials paints a dismal picture of the textbook-publishing industry’s response to new standards: Seventeen of 20 math series reviewed were judged as failing to live up to claims that they are aligned to the common core.

“In general, the results are pretty bad for all the publishers,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, who studies common-standards alignment but was not involved in the EdReports.org project. “I think people really will pay attention to this, and I think it will affect [curriculum] adoption processes going forward.”

In all, just one curriculum series stood out from the pack. Eureka Math, published by Great Minds, a small Washington-based nonprofit organization, was found to be aligned to the Common Core State Standards at all grade levels reviewed.

With every passing day we continue to learn that the Common Core SBAC testing scheme is nothing short of a scam with our state’s children being used as little more than “profit centers” for the corporate education reform industry.

  • Dodd Flea

    Books or tests will never solve the problems of crime, drugs and absent parents. The rich always find a way to make money when money is so easy.

  • Bluecoat

    I think, Jonathan, there is also a indoctrination aspect of the CC and SBAC/PAARC assessments that doesn’t get enough attention, especially form the left, who oppose CC and SBAC/PAARC.
    It is my understanding, that CT will be the first to implement a ‘social engineering” curriculum.
    I would also like to see a Town by Town study as too how much money is being spent to “retrain” teachers, and how much money is being spent on substitute teachers. I as a taxpayer, would like to know how many hours our primary teachers are not in the classroom, but are instead away on being indoctrinated on how to teach to the CC.
    Instead of continuing complaining on how much money is from the so called “business world”, or “evil private sector” where is the curriculum that is being written by the teaching professionals that would compete against CC? What ever happened to the three R’s?
    Why must we continue indoctrinate our kids with gobbliditygook???
    I just can’t wait to see the new Social Engineering and Science Standards that are once again owned and copyrighted by the CCSSO and the NGA.

  • Bluecoat

    And where are the SBAC results anyway?
    Shouldn’t we have those already? Or are they so bad, that we won’t see them until after the November elections?????

  • Bluecoat

    Why would we want the kids to have CC books anyway?
    It is my understanding that they are CC aligned.
    Here is a Houghton Mifflin CC aligned elementary school Math Problem:
    “Juanita wants to give bags of stickers to her friends. She wants to give the same number of stickers to each friend. She is not sure if she needs 4 bags or 6 bags of stickers. How many stickers could she buy so there are no stickers left over.”

    http://gcsdblogs.org/johnson_sue/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/5-1.pdf

    Can anyone answer this??????

    This is the kind of crap in our elementary schools today?????

  • bioqubit

    Be on the look out for a trick used by New York State: Grading standardized tests on a curve…a generous curve. The rationalizations are all there. But the most important purpose is to lull parents into thinking their child’s academic standing is OK. It’s not.

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    Vallas is a crook and a scumbag. From now on he must be known as: “The one whose name you cannot say!”