Several posters on this thread have repeatedly asserted that CCSS will somehow lower the standards which children are expected to meet. Yet in a Washington Post article referenced by nonjwspouse, the critics say this:
- By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates.
The fact is, the CCSS are significantly different than the previous standards in most states. As a broad generalization, previous standards tended to state what students should know, now they are about what students should be able to do.
As a classroom teacher I say this is a very good thing!
Referring to the previous No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy which CCSS is to replace, Strauss, in that same article, makes this excellent point, " NCLB was a dismal failure in both raising academic performance and narrowing gaps in opportunity and outcomes. "
Pointing out the results of the wrong-headed approach of "test and punish," Strauss continues, " NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them."
Addressing the real issue of socio-economic inequality, Strauss explains, " In reality, NCLB’s test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them. "
Drawing the distinction between the things of value in the CCSS and the problems in implementation, Strauss continues, " reasonable people, including many thoughtful educators we respect, have found things of value in the Common Core standards."
Finally, pointing the spotlight on the real issues that should be addressed concerning implementation, Stauss concludes, " Common Core has become part of the corporate reform project now stalking our schools. Unless we dismantle and defeat this larger effort, Common Core implementation will become another stage in the demise of public education. As schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, our communities, and ourselves by telling the truth about the Common Core. This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face." - [Emphasis added]
Her final comments are particularly insightful, saying, "We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none."
I completely agree with the problem of businesses leading the edge of educational reform, but they do need to be involved for several reasons. The obvious one is that they are the ones that create the textbooks and teaching materials that we use in our classroom.
However, I have to disagree with Strauss's assertion that "We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers." Instead I would revise that to read, "We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs alone where there should also be parents and teachers." That being said, and as I have stated before, the majority of the textbooks that I have seen were written and produced by highly qualified educators.
Also, although parents are of course huge stakeholders in this debate, the fact is the vast majority of parents are completely unqualified to participate in this process. Nevertheless, their voices need to be heard, not in respect to creating standards or curriculum, but to offer feedback on the results and the process.
Again, the biggest problems facing education today are not caused by teachers in general, and particular set of standards or curriculum. They are socio-economic inequalities in our society. These cannot be solved by changing teaching standards and testing kids. It's as simple as that.