To say that 2012 was the year of the common core on Curriculum Matters would be an understatement. Let’s take a look at our 10 most popular blog posts, and you’ll see what I mean.
#10: The potential of the common standards to improve student learning was a topic of high interest this year. It drew many of you to Erik’s post on a research paper that offered an optimistic take on this question.
#9: You swarmed to Erik’s post about a study comparing artificial-intelligence scoring to human scoring of assessments. Especially as the two state assessment consortia explore the potential of computer-scoring for their new tests, this topic is of great interest.
#8: There is lots of interest out there in the work to write common standards for science. Erik’s post about feedback to these draft standards was our eighth most popular blog post of the year.
#7: Here is the outlier in a year of top-10 blog-post popularity driven by the common standards: a report about a U.S. Department of Education display of graphic-arts posters by high school seniors—in 2009. Yes, somehow this 3-year-old post grabbed your attention this year. Why? I couldn’t rightly say.
#6: With this blog post, you proved that you are even wonkier than I thought. Our sixth most popular post of the year explored details of PARCC’s ITN. Yeah, you guys don’t need any hand-holding when it comes to the alphabet-soup world of common assessments. You flocked to my post about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers’ invitation to negotiate for its biggest piece of business yet: the item-development contract. In this game, apparently, wonks and nerds (not to mention vendors) rule.
#5: Interest is running high, too, in anything that has to do with college readiness. So it isn’t surprising that my post about PARCC’s final college-readiness definition was the fifth most -read post of the year on Curriculum Matters. Getting agreement on what college readiness means is a thorny matter, and it carries big stakes for students, who could leapfrog over remedial work if they secure this coveted determination.
#4: How prepared are you to put the common standards into practice? Clearly this question is weighing heavy on your minds, because you made my report about teachers’ feelings of readiness to teach the standards the fourth most-read item on Curriculum Matters this year. It’s not hard to imagine that preparedness will be a hot topic in 2013, too.
#3: What happens when all students must take Algebra 1 by 8th grade? That question resonated with thousands of you. Erik’s post about a study on the fallout of the algebra-for-all requirement came in at #3 in our top-10 hit parade on Curriculum Matters this year.
#2: A potentially huge stumbling block for the common standards lies in the quality of the instructional materials produced for them. So it wasn’t shocking that you showed intense interest in Erik’s report on the “publishers’ criteria” in math, created by the standards’ authors to guide publishers and curriculum writers.
#1: Okay, so now we’ve got common standards. So what? That’s the question that a Brookings Institution report sought to explore, and it didn’t offer an optimistic answer, either. The study found that standards alone don’t make much of a difference in student achievement. This is the topic that was our most widely read blog post on Curriculum Matters in 2012. An existential moment, perhaps? Or an indicator of skepticism about the standards? Maybe a recognition of all the hard work that has to accompany the standards to make them matter? All questions that hover over the coming year.
Thank you for reading us, commenting on us, and giving us more ideas to share with you in 2013.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.