WYBI Wednesday: Common Core Promises

Would You Believe It Wednesday
This 'fertilizer' NOT suitable for any purpose known to mankind.
This ‘fertilizer’ NOT suitable for any purpose known to mankind.

How many times have we heard the educratic speech, promises, and goals of Common Core for our students? How many ways have we been bombarded with products specifically based on delivering on those promises? In 3 words, I can tell you (as you can tell me the same); TOO MANY TIMES! Why are so many still ‘buying into’ these promises when it has been shown the CCSS is NOT capable of delivering said promises for every student! Catalogs, magazines, and websites are now chock full of products and services promising to help your student meet the CCSS, AP, SAT, and other such criterion. Because all this tends to be hidden in plain sight (consider yourself lucky if something is actually labeled ‘meets CCSS’ or similar), we’ll spend today’s post looking at just a FEW of those products using the tactic of filling those promises (which are  so empty, they resemble the horse trailer in the above picture).

“Word Voyage”:

I first heard of this on-line product just a few months ago. As you can guess by the name, the product has to do with language. According to their pdf for Common Core alignment, it begins in 4th grade and extends to 12th grade. (see: http://wordvoyage.com/docs/cc_align.pdf) They also admit that there’s a ‘long term approach’ for those using the service to prepare for the skills needed for the SAT (also CCSS aligned). here’s an exerpt: “Word Voyage offers lifelong vocabulary learning that carries students through and beyond high-stakes tests. Because they have learned high-frequency roots, started early, and practiced frequently, Word Voyage students have the knowledge and the skills to grapple with the difficult vocabulary, challenging syntax and demanding writing of the SAT.” You’ll want to read the rest of the paper to see the 7 determining factors repetition is the way to best prepare for high stakes tests. http://wordvoyage.com/docs/rewindingandreinforcing.pdf 

By the way, doesn’t anyone remember the SAT was recently re-written to be not as hard as in years past?! (scores of groups have documented this. For example, http://www.politichicks.com/2014/03/dumbing-sat-match-common-core/)

Watch Word Voyage’s sales pitch. Listen for the rhetoric, buzz words, and promises made.

“Dragon Speech Voice Recognition Software”/Nuance Communications:

This one is especially ‘hot’ right now with Christmas a few weeks away. Maybe you’ve heard the radio ads. I know I have. Why in  just one commuting trip, the ad was played at least 3 times. This product is from “Nuance” (website: http://www.nuance.com/for-business/by-industry/education/dragon-education-solutions/index.htm) Officially, the company is ” Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems.” Per their 2014 Fiscal Year ending press release, “In fiscal 2014, Nuance reported GAAP revenue of $1,923.5 million, up 3.7% from $1,855.3 million in fiscal 2013.” {Note: GAAP means ‘generally accepted accounting principles’}

Here’s a short Nuance promo for the Software:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXXvJ-4Abbc&w=560&h=315]

I’m sure you’re wondering why I have this in a post about CC aligned materials, after all the pretty lady didn’t say one word about Common Core OR education. However, let’s dig a bit deeper so you can see how it connects. According to Nuance’s own website they have a long list of education institutions they contract with and those that do not qualify. Among those institutions using Nuance (which will include not only Dragon software but others) are

  1. “Accredited* public or private primary, secondary, vocational or correspondence school providing full-time instruction for grades K-12 or a school district for such schools.
  2. Accredited* public or private university or college (including community, junior, scientific, technical or vocational college) that grants degrees requiring not less than the equivalent of two (2) years of full-time study.
  3. Administrative Offices & Boards of Education of Educational Institutions. Defined as (a) district, regional and state administrative offices of public Educational Institutions (b) administrative entities organized and operated exclusively for the administration of private Educational Institutions or (c) other state or local government entities nearly all of whose activities consist of administrative support, of a nature that advances academic learning, for public Educational Institutions.
  4. Government schools located in United States territories
  5. Home School Programs approved by Nuance in its sole discretion, which provide K-12 education to a student or students and is able to provide written proof that it a) belongs to a nationally recognized home schooling organization or b) is expressly recognized by a local school district as an acceptable alternative to an accredited or state recognized/approved education institution.
  6. Hospitals and Healthcare Systems that are wholly owned and operated by an accredited Educational Institution (see definitions above). “Wholly owned and operated” means that the Educational Institution is the sole owner of said hospital or health care system (including all of the organization’s assets) and the only entity exercising control over the hospital’s day-to-day operations.”

While searching I was able to find numerous school districts across the US either using Dragon in conjunction with the CC assessments (Like this document for the CT schools: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/student_assessment/practice_test/connecticut_ccss_aligned_practice_test_tem_4_11_2013_revised.pdf) to several Nuance company pdf files with specific CCSS work. No where will you see “Nuance” but you will see “EngageNY”. So why is it in the Nuance pdf section??(see: http://www.rcsdk8.org/ourpages/auto/2014/9/9/59700382/Module%201%20HW%20Answers.pdf) In searching I also saw Nuance in connection with Tulsa, OK schools, Belmount schools (not sure which state). Each time, however, you saw only the kinds of information like the CCSS work from NY above. No direct mention that I could find of Dragon or Nuance, yet they have the information. Did you notice in the CT document the number of places the data is shared with? We’ll have to keep each other updated on this group.

“Math Talk”: While researching this I found a website {here’s the link, but note that most of all the resources are either directly CCSS aligned or somehow connected to the CCSS: http://atclassroom.blogspot.com/2010/09/math-math-and-more-math.html} for those with special needs recommending “Math Talk” with relies on ‘Dragon’, when I clicked on the live link, this is what I found, http://www.mathtalk.com/products.htm This page highlights that the software isn’t cheap (around $900.00, that doesn’t include the price for “Dragon”), it also highlights the types of math, who has access (teachers/students). Here’s another You Tube that shows how “Math Talk” works with “Dragon”. When watching this almost 9 minute video, notice how much set up goes into being able to ‘practice math’ before the demo guy actually begins his math!


Can you imagine a student who’s young wading through this?! I can’t. It makes sense why so much of the CC rhetoric is pushing computer coding, etc. This is breeding such a dependence on computers!!

Other products, websites CCSS aligned:

See the 10 “Best Early Childhood CCSS apps”, http://www.earlychildhoodeducationzone.com/10-apps-for-common-core-standards/

As an example of how your school district may have the resources listed: Directly from the New York City Schools, all their CC aligned choices for in the classroom, http://schools.nyc.gov/documents/d75/technology/assistive/Common%20core%20apps.pdf

From the “Success for All” Common Core alignment report (“Success for All” is a non profit education reform group. They worked with Johns Hopkins University on this report. JHU developed the featured programs) See:

There are SO many other broken promises connected to CCSS. These products/services mentioned above are only making matters worse by supporting Standards that fail our students, not build them up. If you know of a product, service, or app that’s failing our students, please share them in your comments. Thank you.

5 thoughts on “WYBI Wednesday: Common Core Promises

  1. Hi. Thank you very much for your invaluable time and research…you are so appreciated!!!

    I just read this post and saw the line about how much CT is sharing the data. However, I’m not seeing that info in the links. I’m sure I’m simply overlooking it. Could you please point me in the right direction?

    It’s a tough battle here in CT, and I’d love if you ever decided to focus an article on CT. Our Gov Malloy has broken records for the marketing and lobbying costs of CC. Obama even came to support him several days before the Nov elections.

    For reasons unknown to me, CT is a year behind in implementation. Therefore, the general public is still *clueless* about the truth of CC and all of it’s facets. They need a BIG wake up call!

    Thank you again for your continued (credible) research, (concise) writing and consistent presence besides us warriors!

    -Cheryl Hill


    1. Cheryl, wow! Thank you for letting me know CT needs looking into a bit further. Thank you for your kind support and that you like the blog.
      As far as the info sharing bit for CT, I will have to send a separate response (will need to cut & paste some info for you). If you prefer an email instead, please let me know an addy to send it to.
      Keep fighting!

  2. My 11.5yo son is quite dyslexic. We homeschool. He’s been asking for Dragon software because writing his stories is so laborious. I’m not understanding how a language recognition program is CCSS aligned. I have been thinking of it as a tool. Please explain the CCSS connection. Thanks.

    1. Kimberly, If you referred to the previously published link I provided where I featured “Dragon”, you’d see that the company is tied to the Common Core in several ways, including data mining.
      While many home educators believe Common Core can’t touch them, this is just one way in which no education choice is safe.

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