Common Core Standards: Can we find a bottom line?

researching common core standards

I regularly read articles about the Common Core Standards Initiative. There are as many advocates of CCS as there are detractors. You can get a serious case of mental whiplash trying to figure out which side you should come down on. 


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) state that "The widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) presents an unprecedented opportunity for systemic improvement in mathematics education in the United States. "

A Thomas B. Fordham Institute study shows that "The K-12 academic standards in English language arts (ELA) and math produced in June 2010 by the Common Core State Standards Initiative were clearer and more rigorous than ELA standards in 37 states and math standards in 39 states. . . In 33 of those states, the Common Core bested both ELA and math standards". This report gives Ohio a grade of C when compared to CCS - "Ohio's ELA standards are mediocre. Those developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative earn a solid B+. The CCSS ELA standards are superior to what the Buckeye State has in place today."

The American Federation of Teachers believes that ". . .if implemented carefully and with the needed supports and resources, these new standards will help improve education for all students."

US News and World Report polled teachers and found that "more than three-quarters of teachers support adopting the Common Core State Standards".

The ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) published a report called "Common Core Standards: Myths and Facts", which addresses what they believe are false ideas about how the Core was crafted and would be implemented. 


A Review: Myths and Facts of the Common Core State Standards by Truth in American Education presents a direct contradiction of the ASCD article. 

Myth.  Under Common Core, the states will still control their standards.

Fact.  A state that adopts CC must accept the standards word for word. It may not change or delete anything, and may allow only a small amount of additional content (which won’t be covered on the national tests).

Along the same lines we have a blog post by Anthony Cody at the Living in Dialogue blog, asking "The Making of Common Core Creation Stories: Myth or Fact?" 

We are told that teachers were involved from the start in drafting the standards. As I discovered when I heard about the Common Core process back in 2009, there were zero teachers actually writing the draft standards. The AFT calls the review process "the first step in the development process of the CCSS." How can a review be the first step in a development process?

Blogger Mercedes Schneider follows the paper trail on CCS

In 1998, Achieve began benchmarking standards; in 2001, it joined Education Trust, the Fordham Institute, and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) referenced in the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governors and state superintendents signed as part of the Race to the Top (RTTT) application.

The National Review Online voiced concerns about the public, including teachers, being shut out of the process of crafting the Common Core:

Although the Common Core standards are trumpeted as a product of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the actual writers of the standards were a small committee of insiders, many representing testing organizations. In fact, as Joy Pullman of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute pointed out last year, “meetings between members of the Council of Chief State School Officers to write and discuss [Common Core] standards and corresponding tests are closed to the public,” and parents who tried to attend these meetings were shut out.

And while reading the National Review Online article, Opposing Common Core, I found the bottom line:

The broad-based grassroots rebellion against Common Core is ultimately not about academic rigor, costs, or job skills, as important as those issues are, but about transparency, democracy, and the ability of local people to control what goes on in their children’s classrooms — an ability the nation’s founders envisioned when they left education to states and localities through the Tenth Amendment.