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Common Core, Non-Common Core States Face Similar Challenges, GAO Says

By Alyson Klein — December 18, 2014 1 min read

States that are implementing the Common Core State Standards and those going with their own college-and-career ready expectations are using the same strategies—and facing the same types of challenges, according to a Government Accountability Office report released last week.

For instance, states in both camps are giving teachers professional development to implement the standards, but they’re worried the training isn’t high-quality. And all states with new standards are developing new instructional materials that are supposed to match them—but that can be time- consuming, and there isn’t always as much alignment as states were hoping for.

It can also be pretty tricky to communicate with parents and the public about the standards, states told the GAO, which is considered Congress’ investigative arm.

What’s more, states have the same concerns about college-and-career-aligned assessments, whether they are participating in one of two federally-funded consortia or not. They’re worried for instance, about having the technical capability to deliver the tests (even though a trial run this spring went well in most states). And they’re worried about big drops in tests scores when new assessments and standards are rolled out.

The report also notes that while the U.S. Department of Education has suspended its “peer review” process for examining tests in 2012, it’s aiming to have a new process in place by late 2015.

Nothing in the GAO report, which was requested by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the outgoing chairman of the Senate education committee, should come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following common core and its implementation. And the Education Department didn’t have any objections to the findings.

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