The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Common Core implementation called ‘worse’ than launch

Whether you support the Common Core State Standards or don’t, it’s hard to argue that the implementation so far has been smooth. I’ve posted some pieces about just bad the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and related testing has been going  in New York (for example, here) but here’s a comparison that will make it easy to understand just how badly it has gone:

You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse.

That’s what American Federation of  Teachers Randi Weingarten said this week at a National Education Writers Association in Washington D.C., according to the online Capital publication — and it’s important to remember that she has been a supporter of the standards initiative.

Weingarten said that education officials in New York have done a terrible job helping teachers prepare to teach lessons based on the standards and, in a rush to implement the Core and give students Core-aligned standardized tests, provided packets of lesson plans, while some districts bought material from corporations rushing to get it on the market. Capital quoted Weingarten as saying:

“Here’s 500 pages. Just do it,” Weingarten said, mimicking what she argues is superintendents’ message to teachers in New York.

In a column published this week in Huffington Post and the New York Times, Weingarten expanded on this:

Last Sunday, I spent the morning with some Long Island public school teachers who made this crystal clear. Fifth-grade teachers, for example, have been told to follow a new, scripted 500-page curriculum pretty much to the letter. It’s an inexcusable information dump that, without time and training for teachers to absorb, adapt and apply the new material, won’t improve student learning. As Linda Darling-Hammond has written, the Common Core standards should be “guideposts, not straitjackets.”

Weingarten said this about the standards:

They’re not a silver bullet, and they’re not the only thing kids need for a great public education. But they have the potential to disrupt the cycle of increasing poverty and economic and social stratification by making essential skills and knowledge available to all children, not just some. That’s why civil rights groups that see public education as an anchor of democracy and a great equalizer have embraced these standards.

This past spring, Weingarten called for a moratorium on the consequences of high-stakes testing aligned with the Common Core because teachers haven’t had time to absorb them. In June, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he would give a one-year reprieve to states who want to postpone using the student scores of Core-aligned standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

In New York, there has been tremendous controversy over the first administration of a Core-aligned standardized test.  In August, results were released and it turned out that just as education officials had predicted before the tests were given, the scores fell by 30 percent.