By Teresa Welsh |
45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards for their public schools, a set of common curriculum guidelines promoted by the National Governors Association and the Obama administration, among others. The standards, which are for math and language arts, are meant to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.” The Department of Education gave significant weight to adoption of Common Core when providing grants under the federal Race to the Top program.
The standards were released in 2010, but have become controversial in recent weeks as states have moved into the implementation process. As U.S. News’ Allie Bidwell explained, several states have even advanced measures through their state legislatures to halt or repeal the standards.
Indiana has gone the furthest down this road, adopting a law that stops implementation of the standards entirely until further review. "This voids Common Core, and we are starting the process of writing new standards," said state Sen. Scott Schneider, the author of Indiana’s law. "We are moving forward, moving away from Common Core, protecting Indiana sovereignty and student data."
Conservatives have expressed dismay about the standards, contending that they usurp state responsibility for education. At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have introduced resolutions making their discontent with the standards known. But it’s not only those on the right upset with Common Core.
Last week, the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union and, until this point, an ally of the Common Core movement, said that the rollout of the standards has been “completely botched.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has called for a three-year moratorium on sanctions tied to Common Core testing, saying, "You see if the whole shebang works, before you say it’s ready for prime time. … But that’s not what’s happening.”
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, has also called for a delay in basing teacher evaluations on Common Core tests. "It's apparent that we're trying to do a lot of things at once and that becomes difficult because people are stressed," Malloy said.
But the standards still have their staunch defenders. “Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core standards,” Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said. “We’re excited about it. We’re implementing it. ... We are already noticing a very positive effect of implementing those standards. So we’re going to be charging ahead.”
So are Common Core standards a good idea? Here is the Debate
is the President of FreedomWorks.
is CEO at StudentsFirst and former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools.
Dennis Van Roekel
is president of the National Education Association.