To the Editor:
Too often, people evaluating the Common Core State Standards movement conflate the standards as learning goals with implementation factors and associated testing/accountability systems. A more nuanced analysis demands a consideration of the following five dimensions:
• The standards themselves. Overall, are these worthy goals, even if people may disagree with the placement of a few of the grade-level standards?
• Standards implementation. Is the timeline realistic? Have teachers been given proper training and support to teach to the standards?
• The associated tests. Are these appropriate measures of all the standards? Can we draw valid inferences from once-a-year “snapshot” tests?
• The use of assessment results. Are test results being used in defensible ways (e.g., when used to sanction schools or in teacher evaluation)?
• Politics. Have the common-core standards been unfairly politicized (e.g., labeled as “Obamacore,” implying that the federal government has taken over education)?
My view is that unless people can separate and critically judge each of these dimensions, the problems of rushed implementation, testing craziness, or politics will derail the effort.
Do we really want to throw out the baby with the bath water and return to a patchwork of 50 different sets of state standards and tests?
A version of this article appeared in the August 06, 2014 edition of Education Week as Common-Core Standards Require Nuanced, Multifaceted Analysis