Doubts Remain About Usefulness of Common Core Standards

Even though the basics of the Common Core Standards have been set, and even though the majority of the states have agreed to adopt them, questions as to their ultimate usefulness in the classroom remains. While the goal behind the adoption is to bring all students to roughly similar academical level at least in mathematics and reading, Duncan MacLachlan, who is the chief editor of The Harbinger Online – an award-winning school news site – can't find the proof that the new approach will make a real difference where it counts: the classroom.

While MacLachlan can claim that students were kept in the dark during the drafting period, the same can't be said about the teachers. David Coleman, who is considered by many to be the father of CCS, explains that teachers were the most important voice in the curriculum's final design.

He started working on the standards years ago, as one of the founders of the private consulting group Student Achievement Partners. Today, he's president of the College Board, which administers the SAT. Coleman credits 45 governors thus far for putting their political differences aside and moving to adopt Common Core.

"So you had states bringing their best work to the table, the best of their work on their standards," he says.

When Coleman started writing the standards, it was on behalf of a private consulting group called Student Achievement Partners. Now Coleman's the head of the College Board which administers standardized exams like the SAT.

Although the path towards the final version of the standards hasn't been smooth, he credits 45 governors for working together to overcome their differences in order to bring about a document designed to help all American students succeed in schools.

Coleman says the Common Core standards — for kindergarten to 12th grade — are tougher and go much deeper. He says their rigor is why states that have field-tested them, like Kentucky, have seen kids' test scores plummet by as much as 30 percent.

"Those kids who scored 30 percent lower, that's the number of kids who are on their way to remediation in college," Coleman says. "So they may have been passing previous state tests, those tests were presenting kids as ready who were not."

Still, as the articles by The Harbinger indicate, there's a lack of consensus over how helpful CCS will prove to be in the long term. Principal Karl Krawitz believes that his school will suffer if made to adopt CCS, which he thinks will set education back further.

"what people are supposed to regurgitate on some kind of an assessment that's supposed to gauge how well kids have learned the material and how well teachers have taught the material. The reality is tests don't do either one of those things."

04 16, 2013
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