How good are Common Core standards?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative gets a grade of B for its proposed English Language Arts and math standards in a new Fordham report, Stars By Which to Navigate? Scanning National and International Education Standards in 2009.

Four expert analysts concluded:

• PISA strikes out. Neither in reading (literacy) nor in math does its content deserve better than a grade of “D.” This is no promising benchmark for American K-12 education.

• NAEP fares better, with a “C” for its math framework and “B” grades in reading and writing. But it ought to be better than it is.

• TIMSS does really well in math, earning an “A.” (Math and science are all that TIMSS touches.)

Common Core drafters “state clearly that these standards need to be accompanied by a rich, content-based curriculum,” but don’t try to specify what that content should be, write Checker Finn and Amber Winkler on Education Gadfly. That avoids bitter fights over reading lists, but makes it essential that states develop content guidelines.

Finn and Winkler warn that the validation panel is not staffed by experts and that it relies on “an unwarranted conceit” that the common-core standards must be “evidence based.”

Most of them are not and cannot be, at least not today, given the state of research into what skills and knowledge are truly necessary to succeed in college and the workplace.

Despite limitations, the draft standards “are pretty good, better in fact than many of us expected,” write Finn and Winkler.

. . .  there’s tons of work ahead, including “backward-mapping” them from the end of high school through grades K-8; building aligned assessments that will give them traction; and developing the curricular materials (especially in reading/writing etc.) that will bring them to life in the classroom.

So far, Common Core has avoided the controversy that’s plagued previous efforts to develop national standards, writes the Washington Post.

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