Common Core backlash?

Advocates of an increase in online and blended learning often point to the Common Core State Standards initiative as a very positive step that will allow providers to more easily work across the country. Common Core reduces costs of customizing content to each state or having to demonstrate alignment with individual state standards. We have been supportive of the Common Core for these and other reasons. The Common Core concept also just makes sense: is Algebra the same in Alaska than it is in Alabama? If you believe the answer is yes, it’s hard to explain why students in each state should have a different set of standards. Given our support of Common Core, we have been pleased with the adoption by so many states. Worth noting, however, is that we are seeing a backlash from some advocates of state and local control, largely due to a misperception of what the Common Core is, and is not.

Most prominent within the backlash was the early December approval by the education task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) of model legislation opposing the Common Core standards. In addition, we have been seeing articles (such as this one) that demonstrate states that are listed as having adopted the standards now rethinking their stance.

We highlight this issue for a few reasons. We’re concerned that the often-told story of Common Core includes the suggestion that Common Core adoption is a done deal among almost all states. If a backlash is coming, or is in progress, we need to make a better case for why the Common Core makes sense. Also, some of the arguments against Common Core are wrong and should be called out as such. Common Core is a set of standards, not curriculum. It was not created by the federal government, but “is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).” Finally, the move towards more nuanced, higher order thinking-focused national assessments including PARC and Smarter Balance—which are equally if not more urgent —may be slowed by resistance to Common Core.