Monday, January 06, 2014

The Common Core is Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient for Anything Very Important

As I sort of look forward to inevitably writing more about the Common Core standards in the coming year, I should point out that the Common Core is ultimately not decisive. The CC is obviously not necessary to implement the Race to the Top reforms, because we did not wait for the new assessments to begin implementing the rest of the agenda (VAM, etc.).

Of course, it has become a symbolic battle and emblematic of the whole reform agenda -- and the point that middle class parents see -- so it is an important fight. But the reformers don't need to win on a practical level. In particular, the commercial advantages of national standards, the economies of scale argument, are exaggerated.

I just can't stop yapping about how naked the Emperor is.


matthewboh said...

I've got a question. I assumed that schools were struggling with standards. I also thought that schools wanted standards that meant something and could be used to compare themselves against other schools. I assumed that Common Core hoped to address that situation.

What was Common Core trying to address? Is there something that it should be doing or is it the best that could be done and just needs too much improvement to stick with.

Tom Hoffman said...

We had plenty of standards -- including state standards, and it wasn't clear that there was a problem with them. The comparison issue only really comes into play with cross-state comparisons, but even then, we pretty much know how the states stack up because of NAEP.

Leroy's Mom said...

I do think that CCSS is necessary for the VAM component. It's why a number of locales (ex. Georgia) have asked for extensions on meeting RttT. They can't get the VAM systems to work, and they are walking away from the consortia tests (and in some cases trying to walk back from the standards themselves). They could do VAM on existing state tests (NYC did, the LA Times figured out how, and MAP has been used in some places), but it's easier to "bundle" VAM with new standards, and new assessments, like pork in a spending bill.
The thing that gets me is there are so many problems on so many levels now (the standards themselves, how we're being instructed to implement them, the curriculum--and lack of same, the tests, and the data aggregation/mining issues) that in a recent panel on CCSS, a local supe had to plea for separation of the issues when defending the standards. It becomes like shooting ducks in a barrell, because it's just too complex and was done in too short a timeframe. There's so much going wrong simultaneously that it's all become one big hot mess as my Southern friends would say.