Standards: Common Core and Others

The majority of K-12 educators seem to dislike the Common Core Standards. But you know who likes them? The for-profit education industry. Why? Because having common standards makes it a whole lot easier to produce educational materials and sell them to a wide audience. In New Jersey was using the same standards as Texas and California, things would be great for big vendors.

Having to individualize resources costs more money. Having to customize learning in your classroom costs you more time.

A vendor can label a product as being “Aligned with the Common Core” and pick up some easy sales. If you have to apply the same standards to all your students - no special accommodations - your teaching life is easier.

If in 4 years your college freshman composition class is filled with students who went through high school with the Common Core Standards, you should be able to expect a certain homogeneity to their knowledge. Right?

Of course, the idea of having adaptive and personalized instruction was very popular the past few years. What happens to that?

I was part of an effort in 2006 to build a K-20 (AKA K-16 or P-20) program to bring colleges and secondary or lower schools together in order to better prepare the pre-college student. One of the the goals was to align K-12 education with postsecondary goals.

Now, you have elementary and secondary schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia trying to implement new standards for math and language arts in order to improve college and career readiness for every high school graduate.

An admirable goal to be sure. The first set of assessments will be in the 2014-15 academic year.

Perhaps the first department to feel the heat at a college will be the school of education. They need to prepare students now to work in a school environment that will be using the CCS as soon as they start. 

Sure, other college departments will probably sense a different kind of student (better or worse prepared, depending on your current bias). But that probably won't be really evident until students arrive who were taught with Common Core-based curriculums in elementary, middle school and high school. That will take a decade.

I like standards. Standards of weights and measurement were very important to industrial and technological progress. And while I feel that students who graduate a high school in Vermont or Alabama should be equally prepared for work or college, I also think have observed in my own classrooms for 38 years that having the same standards for every student in a class sometimes just did not make for the best learning in that room.

This is not going to be easy.


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