Education Week - November 29, 2017 - 14
Common-Core Concepts Persist in Standards Revisions
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and career-ready standards," said
Michael Cohen, the president of
Achieve, which helped lead the common-core push.
What's more, he said, many of the
states' revisions were not made superficially, but instead aimed at providing
more guidance and clarity to teachers.
"You could tell some thought went
into these revisions," he said.
A Comprehensive Look
The common-core standards, unveiled in 2010, were developed by
groups representing the nation's
governors and state education
chiefs with the goal of leaving high
school graduates prepared for college or the workforce. At their peak,
45 states and the District of Columbia had signed on.
But the standards became a political liability after the U.S. Department of Education gave states financial incentives to adopt them-and
as teachers scrambled to find matching curricula and fretted about new
exams linked to the expectations.
Many states subsequently
tweaked the standards, renamed
them, or replaced them. The Achieve
report is probably the most comprehensive look at the post-common-core landscape, and provides
insights into the challenges other
states will face as they revise their
student expectations. (Most states do
so every seven to 10 years.)
The study examines changes in
24 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi,
Missouri, New Jersey, New York,
North Carolina, North Dakota,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah,
and West Virginia.
Six reviewers conducted the review against the criteria set out in
In ELA, 20 of the 24 states included
all of the markers Achieve looked for,
including foundational reading skills;
working with literature and nonfiction texts; and having students cite
evidence from text when analyzing
and making arguments.
Many states broadened features
from their former standards, the
report notes. South Carolina, for
example, includes standards on
fluency all the way through 12th
grade, while Alabama has students
write poetry as early as grade 2.
Weaker in Math?
The report found more variation
among the states' math standards.
Every state still outlines expectations through Algebra II, and
most preserved references to the
KEEPING THE 'CORE' OF THE CORE
Achieve reviewers analyzed 24 states' new academic standards on multiple criteria. The states were rated
along a spectrum from "weak/absent" to "strong" when it comes to their requirements for text complexity,
which is students' ability to grapple with progressively more sophisticated readings.
A standard for text complexity
is included, and guidance is
A standard for text complexity is
included, but guidance defining
complexity is not comprehensive.
A standard for text complexity is not
included, and/or guidance defines
reading levels too low for college
and career readiness.
mathematical practices-eight core
ways students should grapple with
math, such as being able to reason
quantitatively. But it also found
some gaps. Twelve of the states, for
example, did not emphasize mathematical modeling in high school
math; six lacked statistics topics
for high school.
Achieve deemed Oklahoma's
and Pennsylvania's standards to
be missing the most math benchmarks, judging that they did not,
for instance, sufficiently emphasize
arithmetic in grades K-5 or require
students to know single-digit sums
and products by heart.
"It is no surprise that Oklahoma
standards for English/language
arts and mathematics would score
differently than other states on
indicators aligned to common core,"
Tiffany Neill, the executive director of curriculum and instruction
at the Oklahoma education department, said in a statement.
"After repealing common core in
2014, Oklahoma was tasked with
developing comprehensive standards and chose to engage thousands of Oklahoma educators and
education stakeholders in every
stage of their development," she
added. "Our inclusive design process, and the final standards themselves received constructive and
favorable reviews by Oklahomans,
experts, and other evaluators."
While the report aims at objectivity, it contains a strong viewpoint
about what standards for students
should contain. For example, it
critiques states that added language expecting students to relate
what they've read to their own lives,
a common ELA teaching practice in
the pre-common-core era.
And states were downgraded for
not giving enough guidance on how
to help teachers understand and
use gauges of text complexity.
Both of those features wade into
continuing debates over the best
way to teach reading. Some critics of the common core have questioned whether it's appropriate to
have students of varying reading
levels grapple with the same piece
of text, for instance.
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14 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 29, 2017 | www.edweek.org
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