The Backlash Against Common Core

By Lawrence Hardy

"Fewer. Clearer. Higher."
Those are the types of academic standards the Common Core State Standards Initiative has promised since its founding in 2009 by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). With 46 states participating, the math and language arts standards are being adopted with enthusiastic support -- and considerable funding -- from the Obama administration.

By the 2014-15 school year, technologically sophisticated assessments -- developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium -- will be introduced in schools across the country. And finally, the U.S. will have, if not a national curriculum, a common set of state-endorsed standards and assessments to prepare students for college and 21st century careers.

At least, that’s the plan. But today, the path to implementing the Common Core is looking far more complicated than the vaunted “fewer, clearer, higher” standards themselves. Scholars, politicians, and educators are arguing about what impact, if any, they will have on student achievement.

Even the Common Core’s strongest supporters acknowledge that the forthcoming implementation will be daunting, with the rollout of assessments in 2014-15 “the de facto start date.”

“It’s definitely a challenge, and really a lot of it now is -- everyone’s waiting to see what the assessment consortia come up with,” says David Griffith, director of public policy for ASCD, an endorsing partner of the initiative.

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