The Common Core — a state-led effort to implement rigorous, national K-12 standards for math and reading — has become one of the most hotly debated issues facing American education. In recent months, the Republican National Committee and the American Federation of Teachers have both raised serious concerns, albeit for very different reasons, about the standards, which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Policymakers, practitioners, and parents have asked questions like “Are these standards really more rigorous,” “Is this effort an example of federal overreach or are states more empowered,” or “Will teachers have the necessary training and tools so that they can align their instruction to the new standards?” But they, and #stopcommoncore and #supportthecore Twitter campaigners, have ignored equally crucial implementation questions such as “Will CCSS work with or against new teacher evaluation efforts,” “Will it aid or inhibit the increased use of technology to drive instruction,” “Will it limit charter schooling autonomy,” or “Will it deflate the focus on science and social studies standards?”
My colleague Mike McShane is on a hard-nosed quest to find answers to the these questions because, ultimately, the effort “will rise and fall on how it is implemented in schools and classrooms across the country.” And what will happen if the Common Core fails? As Rick Hess, the director of education policy here at AEI, says “because standards and assessments are so integral to schooling… a [Common Core] train wreck… will have all kinds of unfortunate consequences.” In order to better understand an issue that will affect every aspect of K-12 schooling, I recommend you take three important steps:
1. Watch Mike McShane’s Top 3 video (below) on the Common Core.
2. Read “5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About the Common Core” and AEI’s recent research paper series, which addresses how the Common Core will affect other school improvement efforts.
3. Engage in the conversation. Don’t just jump on the pro- or anti- bandwagon; ask hard questions and seek out answers… because kids’ futures are depending on it.