Five years into the biggest transformation of U.S. public education in recent history, Common Core is far from common. Though 45 states initially adopted the shared academic standards in English and math, seven have since repealed or amended them. Among the remaining 38, big disparities remain in what and how students are taught, the materials and technology they use, the preparation of teachers and the tests they are given. A dozen more states are considering revising or abandoning Common Core.
One reason is that Common Core became a hypercharged political issue, with grass-roots movements pressing elected leaders to back off. Some conservatives saw the shared standards as a federal intrusion into state matters, in part because the Obama administration provided grant funding. Some liberals and conservatives decried what they saw as excessive testing and convoluted teaching materials. The standards are a hot topic in the Republican presidential race. Last month, Barack Obama recommended limiting the amount of class time students spend on testing, saying excessive testing “takes the joy out of teaching and learning.”
But politics isn’t the only reason for the turmoil. Many school districts discovered they didn’t have enough money to do all they needed to do. Some also found that meeting deadlines to implement the standards was nearly impossible.
Common Core advocates hoped to make standards uniform—and to raise them across the board. Their goals were to afford students a comparable education no matter where they were, to cultivate critical thinking rather than memorization, to better prepare students for college and careers, and to enable educators to use uniform year-end tests to compare achievement. They wanted to give the tests on computers to allow more complex questions and to better analyze results.
But after a burst of momentum and a significant investment of money and time, the movement for commonality is in disarray.
Some states, including South Carolina, Indiana and Florida, have either amended or replaced Common Core standards. Others, including Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, New Jersey and North Carolina, are in the process of changing or reviewing them. A total of 21 states have withdrawn from two groups formed to develop common tests, making it difficult to compare results.
The issue has become so politicized that some backers have stopped using the name.
Education reformers decided they would try and implement everything all at once - new standards, new tests tied to those standards, new teacher evaluations tied to the new tests tied to the new standards.
The idea was, if we implement this all at once, it will be up and running before anybody can stop us.
Except it's not quite working out that way.
Read the whole WSJ piece - it's a good overview of what has gone wrong with the Common Core Dream and what continues to go wrong with it.