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Are We Seeing a Shift Away from the Common Core Standards?

The idea of ditching Common Core standards was a firm stance for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump concerning education. He was opposed to it on his campaign website and in true Trump fashion, shared his opinion about it on Twitter.

To be clear, the Common Core was not cooked up by the Obama administration as a mandated set of standards for all states. It was developed through the bipartisan National Governors Association and designed for the purpose of “reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers" with the goal of preparing them to compete in a global economy. States were not federally required to adopt them.

The Every Student Succeeds Act passed in 2015 (which replaced No Child Left Behind) prohibits the federal government from mandating or giving states incentives to adopt a certain set of educational standards, like the Common Core. However, the Obama administration did offer grants through its Race to the Top program for states that adopted more rigorous academic standards.

In June of 2015, most states had adopted the Common Core with only 14 not adopting it at all or tailoring certain parts of it. However, it seems that more states are slowly moving away from the Common Core.

Just this month New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, announced that the state would be revising its English and mathematics standards and that Common Core could be dropped.

Elia said that New York plans to “strike a balance between fictional and nonfictional readings in English classes” and ensure math lessons in early grades are “age appropriate.”

When asked if the reason behind the revisions was an attempt to quell the thousands of students who have boycotted the yearly Common Core standardized testing. Elia played it up as simply a coincidence of timing and said the revision process was not connected to the testing.

While Common Core has been unpopular with its critics because of intensified testing and an overall viewpoint of government interference with children’s education, it’s worth noting that it’s been supported by a majority of educators. The National Education Association reported in 2013 that Common Core standards were supported by 76% of its teacher members.

States that have chosen to rewrite or replace Common Core academic standards often do so with outside input on the initiative -- whether they ask for it or not. When Oklahoma made the decision to propose new academic standards for its public schools, it was criticized for taking a “mile wide and inch deep” approach.

In a report on the new Oklahoma standards, Achieve -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization that helped create Common Core -- declared the revised academic standards lack depth.

“In both content areas Oklahoma’s new standards fail to serve students, teachers, or parents well. The standards cover a lot of content, but with very little depth; a phenomena sometimes referred to as ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ in standards language,” stated Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer at Achieve.”

While the Trump administration may not be able to abolish the controversial standards altogether -- states still have final say in academic standards -- the list of states moving away from Common Core, like New York, could continue to grow.

The key to Common Core revisions according to High Achievement New York, an advocacy group that supports state testing, is keeping the “rigorous academic” standards. "In relying on educators in an open, transparent process, the State Education Department is showing a commitment to getting it right,” the group’s president, Andy Pallotta said.

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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