Supporters of the common core expressed dismay when education scholar and activist Diane Ravitch reserved judgment on the common core standards. A long time supporter of stronger, more specific core requirements, Ms. Ravitch explains on her education blog:
I have neither endorsed nor rejected the Common Core national standards, for one simple reason: They are being rolled out in 45 states without a field trial anywhere. How can I say that I love them or like them or hate them when I don’t know how they will work when they reach the nation’s classrooms?
In these times of austerity, I wonder how much money districts and states have available to implement the standards faithfully. I wonder how much money they will put into professional development. I wonder about the quality of the two new assessments that the U.S. Department of Education laid out $350 million for. . .
These are things I wonder. But how can I possibly pass judgment until I find out how the standards work in real classrooms with real children and real teachers?
Blog readers know that I like much of what I see in the standards, but worry about how quickly states adopted these standards, how many scarce education resources they could consume, and how little public debate (and how much Obama administration pressure) preceded their adoption. And while I often disagree with Diane Ravitch, I share her skepticism about wholesale adoption of these standards without field testing.
A recent survey by Michigan State University raises still another concern. As reported in Education Sector’s “The Quick and the Ed”,
First for the good news: Teachers are embracing the Common Core State Standards. According to a recent survey by Michigan State University, 90 percent of teachers had heard of the new standards, 70 percent had read them, and, best of all, 90 percent liked them. “Those are results we wouldn’t have predicted,” the university’s William H. Schmidt told attendees at the GE Foundation’s Developing Futures in Education conference in Orlando last week. “There is no pushback from teachers.”
But then Schmidt, who co-directs the university’s Education Policy Center, put up his next slide. It showed that about 80 percent of teachers think that the Common Core is “pretty much what they are already doing.” That, said Schmidt, is the bad news. Because if the presentations in Orlando were any indication, nothing could be further from the truth. “I say to those teachers,” Achieve’s Mike Cohen told the group, “Let’s take a look at those standards again.”
For those who don’t like the common core standards, this “business as usual” attitude may actually sound like good news. But I worry that we’ll get the worst of both worlds: a lot of bother and expense, little change.
I plan to resume suggestions about using scarce education dollars wisely. Some of these suggestions will involve improving the odds that more rigorous standards actually enhance student learning.