Opinion
Standards Letter to the Editor

The Common-Core Standards Offer a Guide, Not a Straitjacket

October 14, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Mike Schmoker’s Commentary “The Standards Are Not Ready” (Sept. 24, 2014) raises the important point that the Common Core State Standards have a great deal of promise, but that we have more work to do to effectively achieve their goals.

The standards can be refined to be clearer, fewer, and more aligned with students’ developmental needs, especially in the early grades. We also have much work to do to implement sound curriculum, instruction, and assessment. However, this must be accomplished in a way that allows teachers to be responsive to the learners in their classrooms.

Mr. Schmoker states, “For Linda Darling-Hammond, a clear, common schedule of what to teach, and when, in every course is the critical precondition to effective teaching. "This could be misunderstood as suggesting I favor the kinds of rigid pacing guides some states and districts are inappropriately applying to the standards. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Curriculum guidance should be lean (in Japan and Finland, for example, the entire national math curriculum for grades 1-12 is less than 20 pages long) and should allow teachers to create dynamic lessons responsive to their communities and their students’ needs. In fact, teachers of real kids in real heterogeneous classrooms will need to pay at least as much attention to learning progressions—so that they adapt instruction to where their students are and what they need next—as to the grade-level standards.

Curricular resources should be available for teachers to select, adapt, try out, and refine together in collegial settings within and across their schools. Performance assessments should be robust, developed with and scored by teachers, and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate learning in many ways.

The standards, used well, can raise learning and teaching quality. To do so, they need to be used as guides and not straitjackets.

Linda Darling-Hammond

Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education

Stanford University

Stanford, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the October 15, 2014 edition of Education Week as The Common-Core Standards Offer a Guide, Not a Straitjacket

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Social Studies Standards Spark Fierce Debate in N.C.
Advocates say the new standards are more inclusive because they give more attention to the perspectives of historically marginalized groups.
T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
6 min read
Illustration.
Kubkoo/iStock/Getty
Standards Opinion How the Failure of the Common Core Looked From the Ground
Steve Peha shares insights from his on-site professional-development work about why the common core failed, in a guest letter to Rick Hess.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards Opinion Common Core Is a Meal Kit, Not a Nothingburger
Caroline Damon argues Rick Hess and Tom Loveless sold the common core short, claiming the issue was a matter of high-quality implementation.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards How New Common Core Research Connects to Biden's Plans for Children and Families
A study of national test scores indicate the early phase of the Common Core State Standards did not help disadvantaged students.
5 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty