Date: Mar 26, 2013 3:19 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: Core Withdrawal? Some States Reconsidering
From Scholastic, Spring 3013. See
. Absract appeared in ASCD SmartBrief, Tuesday,
March 26, 2013.
Some states seem to be reconsidering their Common Core commitments
By Nancy Mann Jackson
Alabama's move in February to withdraw from both
of the groups designing assessments for the
Common Core, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, raised
red flags across the country. Alabama's pullout
echoed Utah's, which withdrew from Smarter
Balanced last year. And in Indiana, former
education commissioner Tony Bennett was denied
reelection last November, largely due to his
support for the new Core standards.
Leaders on both sides of the issue expect that
these cracks in state support for the standards
"We will see more states reconsider their
position to implement the Common Core, especially
as the costs of adoption and the process of
training teachers become clearer," says Michael
Horn, cofounder and executive director of
Innosight Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.
"The issue of online assessments might also cause
some states to reconsider their position."
In Alabama, pulling out of the national testing
consortia doesn't mean the state is abandoning
the Common Core. The state's department of
education "has decided to go in another
direction," says Gloria Turner, director of
assessments and accountability. "We are currently
implementing the Alabama College- and
Career-Ready Standards, which include the Common
Core standards and Alabama-specific standards."
Horn expects we'll see "a handful of states fully
exit the Common Core in the months ahead for a
variety of reasons, which may include
anti-testing fears and a fear of nationalizing
education." Opponents of the standards have
recently focused their lobbying and public
relations efforts in Colorado, Idaho, and Indiana.
Full-scale adoption may not happen anytime soon,
but advocates say that even partial adoption is
movement in a positive direction.
"I think a splintering will occur, with multiple
outcomes," Horn says, "but most states will adopt
the Core with traditional testing and follow the
lead from the consortia of assessment designers.
This would still be an improvement from where
SIDEBAR: Discovering Common Ground
Among the growing group of activists pushing back
against the Core, many come from opposite ends of
the political spectrum and find themselves in the
same camp for the first time. Here are three
areas of common ground.
1. "Top-down" Adoption
On both the right and left, some oppose the
top-down, elitist way in which the new standards
were adopted," says Bob Schaeffer, public
education director at FairTest, the National
Center for Fair and Open Testing. "The initial
wave of acceptance was fueled by a strong
promotional campaign coupled with federal
government incentives. To prevent rollback,
proponents will have to show that the Core is
somehow different than the previous remedies for
the nation's educational problems."
2. Testing Overload
The Common Core involves competency-based, or
on-demand, testing, which proponents say will
build more accountability into the system and
give a truer picture of students' actual
learning. Opponents say more testing is not the
answer. "Many new tests will be required without
an appreciable improvement. The two consortiums
designing Common Core tests must demonstrate the
increase in the number of exams will improve
school quality, not further undermine it,"
3. Incomplete Resources
Some opponents may not disagree with the
fundamental reasoning behind Common Core
adoption. But they say their states or districts
lack the necessary resources to meet the Core's
rapid implementation schedule, including
developing the new teaching materials and tests
and the infrastructure to support them.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244