Dubious Standards Coming to American High Schools

Ashley Thorne

Last year NAS board member Sandra Stotsky was appointed to the validation committee that reviewed the Common Core State Standards, a new set of K-12 standards produced by the National Governors Association's Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  

As she examined the standards for English and Language Arts, Stotsky found that they were “culture-free and content-empty.” She was outspoken and meticulous in her objections, and when the validation committee approved the standards in June, she declined to endorse them.  That same month, her term of service on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education expired - and Governor Deval Patrick did not reappoint her to her position (he also did not reappoint Thomas Fortmann, another critic of the new standards).

Within a few weeks, the Board voted to adopt the Common Core standards in Massachusetts (here is Stotsky's protest of the decision).

This week, she writes on Jay P. Greene's blog about the connection between the Common Core State Standards and America's Choice + the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). NCEE and America's Choice plan to incorporate new exams - and exam-based curricula - into American high school education. Stotsky sees two causes for concern:

The first problem is that the exams NCEE will give are to be aligned to the academic level of Common Core’s mysterious “college-readiness” standards.  Their academic level was apparently perceived as such a minor aspect of “rigor” by Fordham’s latest report that it was never mentioned in its evaluation design, rating system, or grades. Even though that academic level (where it was, what it was mathematically or in terms of cultural literacy, and where the research evidence and international benchmarks were to support it) was at the heart of the debate over Common Core’s standards ab initio.

The second problem is that the coursework that NCEE’s America’s Choice is to develop to prepare students for its “Board” exams is not at all clear, although its partner to profit from the development of the coursework now is. NCEE coincidentally announced a partnership with Pearson publishers just after California’s Board of Education on August 2, and Massachusetts’ Board of Education on July 21, voted to dump their superior standards for Common Core’s inferior standards.

Read the rest of Stotsky's piece here. For more opinions on the Common Core State Standards, click here.

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