Saturday, March 13, 2010

Draft "Common Core" education standards: Impressive, balanced, serious

Checker Finn with some wise commentary about the proposed Common Core:

During the three-week comment period that started yesterday, many people will pore over these (and the math standards). Grumps will inevitably be sounded from many directions. Revisions will eventually be made. Nobody can say for sure what lies ahead. But my own initial reading is that millions of American kids would be far better off in schools adhering to these standards than they are today—and if their schools are serious, their curriculum strong, their teachers competent, and the still-to-come assessment systems are well-designed and properly aligned—those young people will emerge from 12th grade in possession of a plausible version of college readiness, at least in the fields addressed here, and the United States will be farther along the road to international competitiveness than it is today.

Keep in mind, though, that math and ELA are the only subjects addressed (save for smidgens of history and science) and that the amount of construction needing to be placed atop the standards foundation is immense.

…Some states may well determine that their current standards are superior and that they have no need of Common Core (though we should be wary of those who say that when what they really mean is they don't have the energy or will or resources to make the requisite changes). The last time Fordham reviewed state standards—a process we're now commencing once more—we found just six jurisdictions with math standards that deserved "honors" grades and only twenty that earned As or Bs in English. All the rest got Cs or below. It's hard for me not to think that their schools and students would be better off with the "Common Core"—and all that follows from it. A tougher call will be states—California cannot be avoided here—that already have solid standards but have done a dismal job of implementing them. A change of standards will only benefit their kids if the implementation changes, too.

…For the moment, just look at the draft "college- and career-ready" standards themselves and ask whether these set forth (for two subjects, anyway) a first rate depiction of the skills that you'd be proud to see young Americans acquire in school.

I think they do—and deserve to be taken very, very seriously. But let me caution you again: When you review the Common Core drafts, don't just eyeball them. That didn't get me deep enough into them. Like a building, appearances can be deceiving—and in any case you want to know that there's more here than a façade. Dig deep and, if the architecture and infrastructure aren't clear to you, demand a tutorial. You, too, may be favorably impressed. 


Draft "Common Core" education standards: Impressive, balanced, serious


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