Friday, April 29, 2011

Common Core Standards Spur the Marketplace

According to press reports, the Bill Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation are partnering to create "complete, online curricula" for English/Language Arts and mathematics, based on the recently completed Common Core Standards. The effort is to offer school districts across the county a smooth transition to implementing the standards. Six states have not adopted the standards, the New Hampshire legislature will vote soon to reverse their decision to adopt them, and a similar proposal was presented to the Massachusetts legislature. School boards, organizations, experts, and parents have concerns about the Common Core Standards and their implications. One group expresses these shared concerns in a document called "What Parents, Taxpayers, and School Boards Should Know."

The Gates/Pearson partnership will offer 24 courses using "technological advances such as social networking, animation, and gaming to better engage and motivate students." Four courses will be available for free through the Gates Foundation. The rapid development process will release the math courseware for secondary students, and English/language arts for elementary students in the 2013-2014 school year, with "accompanying tools" to follow in 2014-2015.

Teachers will be part of the development process as well as experts from abroad.
"Officials from the two foundations also said they are working with a range of experts not only in the United States, but also from such countries as Japan, Singapore, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Australia in building the new curricula."

The article does not specify the precise type of input that will be provided by the international community.

Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst, a former director of the U.S. Department of Education research arm, expresses concern over the initiative this way:
“The question will be, and it’s a reasonable one to ask: Who profits from this? People will have to profit from it; you can’t deliver education products into the marketplace for free. But it will be interesting to follow the money and see who manages to monetize the nation’s investment in common-core standards and assessments.

Nevertheless, Mr. Whitehurst said, it’s good to see someone tackle a curriculum spanning so many grades, so one grade can build effectively upon another. And done well, the work could serve as a valuable lever in the industry to prompt more curriculum development, he said.
Still, Mr. Whitehurst said, it will be a daunting task to complete the curriculum systems in three years."

What do you think?

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