From Scholastic, Spring 3013. See
See http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3757959 .
Absract appeared in ASCD SmartBrief, Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
Some states seem to be reconsidering their Common Core
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
Leaders on both sides of the issue expect that these cracks in state
support for the standards may grow.
"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
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 we've been."
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
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.Š The two consortiums designing
Common Core tests must demonstrate the increase in the number of exams
Š 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