Reading & Reacting: Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors

Photo: Gold Bar with Reflected Coins

Gold Bar with Reflected Coins – cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by Bullion Vault

By Anthony Cody @ EdWeek’s Living in Dialogue blog

As usual Cody is sharp and on-point in his criticism of the Common Core and the edreformy support that is behind the effort. Here he outlines the premise for his lengthy essay.

With this essay, I want to draw together the central concerns I have about the project. I am not reflexively against any and all standards. Appropriate standards, tied to subject matter, allow flexibility to educators. Teachers ought to be able to tailor their instruction to the needs of their students. Loose standards allow educators to work together, to share strategies and curriculum, and to build common assessments for authentic learning. Such standards are necessary and valuable; they set goals and aspirations and create a common framework so that students do not encounter the same materials in different grades. They are not punitive, nor are they tethered to expectations that yield failure for anyone unable to meet them.

I think it is important to repeat the notion that being critical of the Common Core does not mean outright rejection of standards as a framework or foundation for education. There are many educators that believe in the idea of standards but not the variety endorsed by the Common Core or the additional strings attached to it. Rejection of standards and casting a jaundiced eye toward the Common Core should not necessarily be conflated.

Here is Cody’s list of Top Ten Colossal Error associated with the Common Core:

  1. The process by which the Common Core standards were developed and adopted was undemocratic.
  2. The Common Core State Standards violate what we know about how children develop and grow.
  3. The Common Core is inspired by a vision of market-driven innovation enabled by standardization of curriculum, tests, and ultimately, our children themselves.
  4. The Common Core creates a rigid set of performance expectations for every grade level, and results in tightly controlled instructional timelines and curriculum.
  5. The Common Core was designed to be implemented through an expanding regime of high-stakes tests, which will consume an unhealthy amount of time and money.
  6. Proficiency rates on the new Common Core tests have been dramatically lower—by design.
  7. Common Core relies on a narrow conception of the purpose of K-12 education as “career and college readiness.”
  8. The Common Core is associated with an attempt to collect more student and teacher data than ever before.
  9. The Common Core is not based on any external evidence, has no research to support it, has never been tested, and worst of all, has no mechanism for correction.
  10. The biggest problem of American education and American society is the growing number of children living in poverty.

While Cody has a lot more to say about certain errors than others, his elaborate explanations are impeccably linked with supportive resources. He offers a wide variety of links and explanation behind the dubious process and development of the Common Core and more. Despite many of these facts being known and not necessarily new, Cody assembles an impressive body of material all in one place.

This is the kind of piece all educators should read. Unfortunately, in my experience, there simply are not enough people educators or otherwise that have the required background to see just how seedy some of this material is. To his credit, Cody takes pains to explain and provide context. Yet, depth is hard earned when reading about a topic that is subject to deliberate secrecy and obfuscation.

I keep wondering when the costs associated with all of this will really start to impact implementation decisions. The tests are going to be more expensive and onerous and they are never going to get cheaper. Plus, it is hard to see how the result will be at all positive, case in point New York.

However have no doubt, the very operators that produce the tests designed to spark high failure rates are ready with the solutions to problems of their own making. And those solutions will not be cheap either. There is about to be a new gold rush.

Image: iPad

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