States Can’t Pick and Choose Among Common Standards

By Catherine Gewertz — February 02, 2010 1 min read
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States that adopt the common standards must adopt 100 percent of the document, according to two officials working on the initiative.

This clarification emerged yesterday from a meeting in Las Vegas organized by the National Association of State Boards of Education. NASBE is holding a series of these meetings around the country so state board of ed folks can discuss the initiative, which 48 states have signed on to support.

During yesterday’s discussion, one question sought to clarify the requirement that participating states achieve an 85 percent match between their state standards and the common standards. (This is a requirement contained in the agreement the states signed in support of the common- standards work.)

Scott Montgomery of the Council of Chief State School Officers and David Wakelyn of the National Governors Association, the two groups organizing the initiative, took on the question and provided some information that few have heard so far. They said that when a state adopts the common-core standards, it must adopt the whole thing, not just parts of it.

“You can’t pick and choose what you want,” Wakelyn said. “This isn’t cafeteria-style standards.”

So what does an 85 percent match mean, then? It means a state can add 15 percent of its own material to the standards, Montgomery and Wakelyn said. When people here asked how that 15 percent deviation would be defined and measured, Montgomery essentially said that it wasn’t going to be a big deal; it’s not as if the CCSSO was going to “go around and police” it, he said.

Lots of interesting discussion is going on here, and many thorny, unanswered questions are being raised. I’ll attend the second round of panels today, and write more about the conversations in this space, and in a story later this week. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: See my blog post from the second day of the meeting here, and my story here.

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