This is the article from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Sunday 8/11/13.
Even if you believe that the Common Core standards are high-quality, internationally benchmarked and would provide a solid foundation for the American education system, you should be worried about how they are being implemented.
If the Common Core standards – which are meant to define what knowledge and skills should be acquired by students during their K-12 education – are not integrated into the American education system with care, any positive attributes that they may have will be washed out by incoherence, misalignment and evaporation of political support.
That said, there is ample reason to believe that the standards are not being implemented with care.
Last week, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a multi-state consortium working to develop standardized tests aligned to the Common Core, released the price tag for its new exams.
At $30 per student, it came in at almost three times what Georgia spends per year on tests, causing the Peach State to drop out of the consortium later that day citing testing costs. Though it is true that the price point is less than what half of the states in the consortium spend on assessments, that is little solace for state education leaders who will need to acquire new funding for tests at a time of constricted state budgets.
This portends problems. One of the purposes of the Common Core is to unify the set of expectations for students all across the country.
There is no reason, the argument goes, that a fourth-grader in Mississippi should learn something different from a fourth-grader in Vermont. If, however, cost or politics drives every state to develop its own test of the standards, there is little reason to believe that students will be held to the same expectations.
Such could also be said about the flood of new “Common Core aligned” resources, teachers and principals are sifting through to reorient classroom instruction to the Common Core.
One of the promises of the Common Core was that it would create a nationwide market for textbooks, supplemental resources and professional development tools.
A quick Amazon search finds over 30,000 such items, most of which are described as aligned to the standards. If states, districts, and schools do not find a meaningful, workable way to vet these materials, they risk teaching students content or skills not aligned to the standards. This could cause an inaccurate assessment of student, teacher and school performance on accountability exams.