Will the slowdown on Common Core in some states lead to a wider retreat?

Much to the frustration of many education reformers, another state could retreat from the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

A bill was introduced in Michigan this week that would end funding for the standards, meant to increase rigor in English and math classrooms across the nation so that students are more prepared for college, and the tests that go with them. Other states, including Alabama and Indiana, have also tried to peddle backward after adopting the new standards. (An effort in Alabama to stop  implementation failed; one in Indiana to slow implementation succeeded.)

Still, most states are plowing ahead. The resistance so far has come from right-wing conservative groups who fear federal overstepping because the Obama administration, although not involved in the creation of the Common Core, has been a cheerleader for the adoption of new, more rigorous standards and offered federal incentives for states to adopt them. The standards still enjoy a wide coalition of proponents, which included teachers unions and right-leaning think tanks like the Thomas Fordham Institute.

Next year, as Common Core hits classrooms—and as many schools grapple with how to handle the new standards along with new teacher evaluations and the new standardized tests coming online in a couple of years—that coalition may be tested, however.

Already, presidents of the two national teachers unions have called for states to wait before connecting school and teacher accountability to the new standards. The unions say this is only prudent to make sure implementation is fair and teacher buy-in is assured, although some proponents of the standards have accused the unions of backing down on their support.

More interesting, perhaps, will be watching how districts, principals and teachers react to the standards once they go into effect in classrooms. Some high school English teachers are already concerned they will have to reduce their focus on literature to make room for the inclusion of nonfiction informational texts called for by the standards. And content experts have worried about more esoteric issues, such as how much algebra is covered by the standards and how the concepts of geometry are presented.

The Hechinger Report will be reporting from classrooms in the next year to determine how teaching is changing and how any problems are being worked out–or not, so stay tuned!

POSTED BY ON May 31, 2013