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The Common Core Takes Hold

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March 18, 2014 03:23 pm

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In a new article on Education Next, Robert Rothman writes a comprehensive overview of how the Common Core is taking hold in the majority of the nation. As Common Core implementation steadily moves forward, he analyzes its vulnerabilities and strengths, challenges – both political and implementation-based, and future.

Rothman opens with an analysis of standards-based reform, starting in the 1990s. Previous attempts were shortchanged by vastly differing perceptions of the usage and intent of the standards. In some classrooms, Rothman notes, instructors substantially changed their teaching methods to adapt to the new standards. In others, few changes were made. The result was little to no gains in student achievement. Rothman contrasts these dismal results with the current implementation efforts around the Common Core State Standards, writing, “the efforts under way to make teachers aware of the standards and the instructional shifts they imply are unprecedented in their scope and intensity.”

When evaluating where the Core currently stands, Rothman cites a self-reported survey of state officials that found that nearly all states have either begun implementation or have a plan to do so. He breaks down the findings, including the negative impact funding cuts have had on implementation in some states.

Rothman then moves into a discussion of cross state and national efforts to support Common Core implementation. The largest cross state effort has been undertaken by the two major consortia developing assessments aligned to the standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC). He notes that publishers are working in tandem with Common Core developments to develop new materials based on the standards.
(Join Alliance President Bob Wise and leaders from PARCC and SBAC for a webinar on assessments aligned to the Common Core on Thursday, March 20th.)

One of the major challenges facing the Common Core is funding limitations. Other challenges include ensuring that new coursework materials are aligned to the Standards and that new assessments accurately and effectively measure student mastery of the material. Rothman also notes several political challenges to the Core, including public concern over new exams and teachers being wary over implementation.

Finally, Rothman ends with “the true test” for the Common Core State Standards: will they better prepare all students for college and a career? That question can only be answered with time.

“In the meantime, states are implementing the common core standards because they are convinced that it is in their best interest, and in the interest of the nation as a whole, for young people to develop the knowledge and skills the standards embody,” Rothman says. “Despite the challenges, states and districts are attempting to make it happen in tens of thousands of schools across the country.”

Read the full article, “The Common Core Takes Hold,” on Education Next.

Robert Rothman is senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education and author of Fewer, Clearer, Higher: How the Common Core State Standards Can Change Classroom Practice (Harvard Education Press, 2013).

 

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