College & Workforce Readiness

What Was the Public Feedback on the Common Standards?

By Catherine Gewertz — June 04, 2010 2 min read
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Predictably, when the common standards were released this week, scads of organizations released official statements on the final documents (some examples: click here for a roundup of reaction from higher-ed organizations, here for a laudatory statement of support from Colorado, here for one from the testing company ACT, and here for praise from the civil rights coalition Campaign for High School Equity).

The core-standards folks, of course, threw a major party for the release at a high school in Georgia. They didn’t happen to mention their newly revamped website. But it features the final standards documents themselves, along with other newly added resources.

One of the things on the new page is the summary of public feedback. You might recall that there had been some grumbling about the public feedback phase, since it lasted just a few weeks, and came relatively late in the process of developing the standards. There were also some suggestions, including from yours truly, that the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers consider releasing all the public comments, instead of summarizing them.

The NGA and CCSSO declined to release those 10,000-plus comments, sticking with their plan to summarize the feedback. The way they’ve done it is in two sections, one for the math and English standards, and one for the “college and career readiness” standards (high school graduation expectations). They total 15 pages, and can be found on the site’s new “resource page.”

Also notable on the new site is a report from its validation committee. This is the panel, you might recall, that was named to watchdog the process of designing standards and make sure they were up to snuff. Check out their report, which includes, among other things, a list of the 24 committee members who signed off on the process. You’ll note that the panel consists of 30 members. I know that the CCSSO and the NGA had difficulty getting a hold of one of the members for his final blessing, but all or most of the others simply refused to sign off.

One interesting element in this report is that it anticipates some kind of ongoing organization to support the standards once states adopt them:

“Effective long-term governance and organization of the CCSSI—sustaining a complex and demanding process over the span of years—is critical. The NGA Center and CCSSO are committed to ensuring that the Common Core State Standards remain state-driven and state-based. This includes encouraging states to lead cycles of revisions to the standards as new knowledge, best practices, and research emerge. The role of the [validation committee] or a similar structure will also need to be incorporated into the structure of long-term standards revision and governance.”

Indeed, I’ve heard the NGA’s Dane Linn discuss a “governance structure to sustain the work” that would help states stay in control of the standards. Just what that will be and how it will take shape will be worth monitoring.

A few more tidbits to round up for you from the release of the standards:

• A swipe at the grammar in some of the supportive rhetoric around the common standards, from critics Susan Ohanian and Stephen Krashen;

• the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal stories;

• The Hechinger Report’s questioning perspective;

• The National Review, via National Public Radio, skewering the key ideas supporting the standards;

• The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, as part of its new common standards resource page, heartily commending the English language/arts standards to states.

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