Volume 10 No 1 Fall 2013


July 19, 2013

4 reasons why the Common Core Standards are losing popularity
by Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor

In what could be compared to, well, many education reform initiatives over the years-educational technology included-a once-widely, and quickly, accepted initiative is dividing the education community; begging the question, 'Are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) just another flash in education's pan?'

45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS in what was once lauded as a giant step in the right direction in trying to improve student achievement and college- and career-readiness.

The K-12 Standards, developed for Mathematics and English Language Arts, are designed to bring student learning into the 21st Century through the inclusion of, and focus on, digital media, social learning tools, critical thinking skills, and online assessments.

Yet, many states, policy makers, and educators are saying that though giving the go-ahead was easy, successful implementation planning didn't factor well enough into the decision to adopt, causing problems states are only now beginning to fully comprehend.

Here you'll find the four most widely discussed contentions with CCSS.

1. Limited resources for implementation
States that are already strapped for funding and have adopted the CCSS have spent many millions of dollars to create curriculum around them, implement them, and create tests aligned to the standards. The federal government also contributed roughly $360 million to help develop core-aligned tests.

But some states are now prohibiting spending for CCSS implementation. Examples include Kansas, Arizona, Michigan, and Indiana. Many states representatives say the cost of teacher training, new textbooks and materials, as well as the educational technology and IT foundation needed to successfully implement the CCSS, was not discussed properly prior to adoption.

2. Underdeveloped high stakes testing
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently called for a moratorium on the high-stakes implications of Common Core testing until the standards have been properly implemented.

"These standards, which hold such potential to create deeper learning, are instead creating a serious backlash-as officials seek to make them count before they make them work…And it is happening throughout the country," said Weingarten. (Read "Editorial: Make the Common Core standards work before making them count.")

And Weingarten isn't the only one. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board also urged city officials to delay CCSS testing until implementation is completed.

"Experts are divided over the value of the new curriculum standards, which might or might not lead students to the deeper reading, reasoning and writing skills that were intended," the board explained. "But on this much they agree: The curriculum will fail if it isn't carefully implemented with meaningful tests that are aligned with what the students are supposed to learn…it would be better off delaying the new curriculum a couple of years and doing it right, rather than allowing common core to become yet another educational flash in the pan that never lives up to its promise."

Parents have also started a campaign to "opt" their children out of the Common Core-aligned high-stakes standardized tests. For example, parents in both Utah and New York are voicing their concerns on whether or not the CCSS are valid.

3. Not aligned for college-readiness
A recent report reveals that although most states have adopted the CCSS, their diplomas remain CCSS deficient. Of the 45 states and the District of Columbia that have voluntarily adopted Common Core, only 11 have aligned their graduation requirements in mathematics with those standards. (Read "Report: High school diplomas don't support Common Core.")

"They do not require high school graduates to complete the math classes that typically cover the content described in the new standards," explains the report. "Until states and districts re-examine their graduation policies, a high school diploma will not necessarily signify college- and career-readiness as envisioned by the Common Core."

4. Stifling creativity
Apart from many questioning the validity of the CCSS' claims that the new standards will better teach students the skills they need to be college- and career-ready, many in the education sector are worried that the CCSS will become a new No Child Left Behind (NCLB)-turning today's brightest minds into testing automatons.

"The world changes. The future is indiscernible. Clinging to a static strategy in a dynamic world may be comfortable, even comforting, but it's a Titanic-deck-chair exercise," explained Marion Brady, a veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer, and author in a recent Washington Post article.

Brady said that the CCSS assume that what kids need to know is covered by one or another of the traditional core subjects. "In fact," she said, "the unexplored intellectual terrain lying between and beyond those familiar fields of study is vast, expands by the hour, and will go in directions no one can predict."

"The word 'standards' gets an approving nod from the public (and from most educators) because it means 'performance that meets a standard,'" she continued. "However, the word also means 'like everybody else,' and standardizing minds is what the Standards try to do. Common Core Standards fans sell the first meaning; the Standards deliver the second meaning. Standardized minds are about as far out of sync with deep-seated American values as it's possible to get."