Monday, September 12, 2011

Your Teacher Said WHAT?

VIA Education Week
By Nancy Flanagan on September 5, 2011 9:55 AM

If I were a betting woman, I'd put serious money on the Common Core Everything--not just standards, but assessments and a curriculum package that can be delivered on-line--soon becoming the mandated norm for nearly all public schools in America. In the politicized process of making the tools of schooling "common," the nation will be continuously subjected to a lot of blah-blah about the absolute necessity of all states having identical "goalposts," the scientific accuracy of value-added / student growth profile measurement and the vital importance of "rigorous" curricula.
In the end, not much will have changed. Good schools will still be good schools, terrible schools in poor neighborhoods will still be failing--and "delivering content" via technology will still be promoted as the Next Big Thing, an exciting option to make education for the masses more "personalized" and "efficient" (read: cost-effective). No bang, for really big bucks.
It's a devilishly clever game plan: Positioning the standards as a "state" initiative led by governors, painting the new standardized assessments as more "authentic" and funding their development "competitively"--and then simply letting "the marketplace" produce aligned curricular resources.
Nothing national about it, no sir! It was practically spontaneous, this sudden, coordinated interest in national common standards, re-created by someone other than teachers, and aligned with new tests and the materials necessary to standardize learning for all children in publicly funded schools. (Sarcasm alert.)
I'm more or less agnostic about the Common Core standards. I can see modest value in a voluntary standards framework, a thin set of content goals--suggesting that 5th grade would be a good time to teach multiplying and dividing fractions, for example. I was on a team of teachers who created model curriculum units last summer, cross-walking the current Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations with the Common Core standards.

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