Monday, February 27, 2012


This debate about the Common Core Standards is one in which I have a deep and abiding interest. In the last year, much of my content development work has been to write (or edit or review) materials addressing these standards.

As standards go, what I can say is that they're fine. Nothing unusual. Nothing at all outside of the realm of what is commonly assessed (here I speak only of ELA as I'm not qualified to evaluate the soundness of the math standards from the perspective of a content area expert, but my math colleagues have told me their opinion of the math standards is similar). We all agree that the standards do bear the smudges from many sets of fingerprints--and that this is to be expected from anything produced by a committee, our experience being that members of committees often come to the table wheeling bearing their own baggage agendas, and much compromise is needed in order to reach the Promised Land consensus. 

However, we none of us think that there is a monster hiding under the bed anything to suggest a federal brainwashing campaign conspiracy hijacking of state and local authority in the schools.

Arne Duncan employed a Jab, Right Hand, Left Hook in his response (which I paraphrase below): 

Being just a lone voice crying out in the wilderness an independent consultant unaffiliated with any government office or department (or any publisher), of course I am not privacy to the politicking. There is probably more here than meets the eye.

On a completely separate note, in re high school exit exams and college readiness, I hear from the Center on Education Policy (CEP):
27 of the 31 states with high school exit exams reported participating with Partnership for for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and/or SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to develop common assessments that are aligned to the CCSS [Common Core Standards] to measure college and career readiness. Of these 27, at least 16 states plan to replace their current exams with consortia assessments. . . .
[In the spirit of transparency rather than bragging, I tell you that an article I wrote for National Geographic Explorer, "Seeing Eye to Eye" was reprinted on page 74 of The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks. The reprint permission request went through National Geographic, so this was a fait accompli long before I received the unexpected reprint check, and much (if not most) of the credit should go to my editor at NGE for reasons previously discussed.]

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