Another Prediction of Common-Standards Failure

By Catherine Gewertz — February 23, 2012 1 min read
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More ripples today from a recent Brookings report projecting the failure of common standards. Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews details his conversion from common-core advocate to skeptic in a column today.

Mathews writes that he was at first impressed with “the brain power and good intentions” of the new standards and thought they would “elevate instruction” and help low-achieving states do better. But after talking to Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless, he has concluded that the new standards represent “another big disappointment we should have figured out long ago.” What really matters, he argues, is well-trained, well-supported teachers.

In case you missed Loveless’ report, which caused a bit of a hubbub when it came out last week, he essentially argues that there is no evidence of a connection between states’ own standards and student achievement, so there is no reason to believe that common standards would affect achievement.

In the wake of that argument, a flurry of folks rushed out to defend the standards. They noted, among other things, that it’s really the curriculum and instruction that results from the standards that will make a difference. (See my blog post from Tuesday for that flurry, and also be sure to read the many comments that were posted in the blog in response to my reporting on the Loveless study. They included that curriculum-and-instruction note.)

Does anyone disagree that good curriculum and instruction are important? Would anyone dispute that well-trained, well-supported teachers are central to good learning? So it’s standards, then, that are coming into question, at least in some quarters. An interesting development, since the standards movement has been defining education reform for nearly three decades now.

All of this floats the question: Are standards—common or otherwise—a necessary basis for good curriculum and instruction and well-trained, well-supported teachers?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.