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The Common Core Emphasizes Close Reading. Its Critics Should Try That Sometime.

The Common Core Emphasizes Close Reading. Its Critics Should Try That Sometime._5fbeb97741b3e.jpeg
ACT Common Core State Standards (CCSS) High Standards Jamie Gass Marten Roorda Massachusetts Peter Cunningham Pioneer Institute Valerie Strauss Washington Post

The Common Core Emphasizes Close Reading. Its Critics Should Try That Sometime.

The Common Core Emphasizes Close Reading. Its Critics Should Try That Sometime.

Note the nuance in a press release from the ACT regarding an analysis of the Common Core State Standards based on a survey of 9200 K-12 and college educators (emphasis mine):

New research from ACT points to certain discrepancies between portions of the Common Core State Standards and skills some educators believe are most important for college readiness.

This is hardly a condemnation of the standards, which ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda makes clear in his opening quote:

ACT’s findings should not be interpreted as a rebuke of the Common Core. However, the data highlight the disconnect between what is emphasized in the Common Core and what some college instructors perceive as important to college readiness.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post’s resident Common Core critic Valerie Strauss pounced. Under the headline, “Common Core Isn’t Preparing Students Very Well for College or Career,” she wrote:

A new report that surveys curriculum nationally and reaches thousands of K-12 and college instructors as well as workplace supervisors and employees has some bad news about the Common Core State Standards: Many people in education and the workplace don’t think some of the English Language Arts and math standards—which are being used in most states—are what students and workers need to be successful in college and career.

Sure enough, in my inbox arrives an email from Jamie Gass of the right-wing Pioneer Institute sharing the Strauss column as further proof that the standards have to go. His organization is leading an effort to repeal the standards in Massachusetts.

I don’t question the findings of ACT’s survey. With nearly 1,000 separate standards spread across 13 grades and two subjects, it’s likely we can find, “certain discrepancies” between some of the standards and what some educators think is needed to be college-ready.

The responsible policy response is to set up an appropriate and thoughtful process to revise or upgrade the standards based on input from classroom teachers. In fact, this is exactly what has happened or is underway in states like New Jersey, New York and Tennessee. For the most part, the standards remain largely intact in about 43 states.

So thank you to the ACT for surveying educators on the critically important question of whether our states’ educational expectations are in line with our childrens’ educational needs. The findings are duly noted and will hopefully lead to improvements in the standards.

As for the critics, I have some bad news: As educators from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Colorado and elsewhere will tell you, the case for Common Core remains strong. And, politically-driven efforts to repeal the standards not only create chaos in our accountability systems and unnecessary costs, but they also create uncertainty for students and teachers.

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