Obama ties funds to new standards

President Obama wants to link Title I funding to states’ adoption of “college- and career-ready standards, he told the National Governors Association.  States would have to sign on to common core standards under development — Texas and Alaska are the hold-outs — or work with state universities to set their own standards.

It’s not clear how “college- and career-ready” would be defined or evaluated, Education Week notes.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan also wants to tie Race To the Top funding to adoption of “college- and career-ready” standards.

Forcing states to adopt the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) package is a “huge mistake,” writes Lynne Munson on the Common Core (no relation) blog. It alienates states like Massachusetts and California, which already have rigorous standards and won’t appreciate being coerced.

However, several new reports criticize the quality of the proposed common core standards, reports Curriculum Matters. Drafters are fighting over what to include in the reading and math standards. Once they see the final result, some states may opt out.

On Flypaper, Checker Finn suggests humility and prudence:

If these standards and assessments end up representing a huge improvement over those in use in most states today, then much that’s good may reasonably follow from their installation and use. But what if they don’t? And even if they do, what about those (few) states that have done a creditable job on their own and for which CCSSI may represent either a lateral move or a step backward? In any case, would it not be prudent to appraise their safety and efficacy before demanding that they become the center of America’s new education universe?

Rick Hess worries that the Education Department’s arrogance will undercut RTTT, which he likes.

. . . the Duncan team’s self-righteousness, impatience with skeptics, and frantic pace have meant little time or interest in building a process that will be credible and sustainable.

Duncan says the governors are “receptive” to linking common standards to eligibility for federal funds. Alexander Russo says he’ll believe it when the governors say it themselves: Sure, force us to jump through a new hoop to get the same old funding!

Update: Reward results, not process, says Center for Education Reform.

Why Race to the Middle? First-Class State Standards Are Better than Third-Class National Standards asserts a paper by Ze’ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky for the Pioneer Institute.

Australia is introducing new standards — including grammar.

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  1. I am feeling so TOTALLY smug and joyful right now that we are not a Title I district. Tra la la!

  2. If that was a cynical statement, enjoy! If there was even a bit of seriousness behind it, reconsider.

    States apply to get Title 1 funds to pass on to Title 1 schools & districts–schools & districts do not apply on their own. For example, NCLB was accepted by states. States define what is expected of their schools, Title 1 or not. And that what is tested on the annual assessment.

  3. Here’s what the CCSSI heads said about their effort in December (http://www.corestandards.org/videos.htm):
    – International benchmarking is easier said than done –
    – What CCSSI produced is the “best we could do” in 2009. There is limited evidence as to what works and they hope that a by-product of this endeavor will be a direct call for more research. –
    – It was their hope to have better standards than most states, but they will not be perfect (consider this draft 1.0). –
    Their stated objective: to provide standards that enable students to go to college and get Cs without the need for remediation.

  4. Student of History says:

    The Pioneer Report on how mediocre these so-called standards are is jaw dropping. I say so-called because the reports says these are not academic standards at all but just statements about generic skills.


    is the link. It should be required reading for everyone who cares about America’s future and is concerned about the lack of emphasis on academics already in too many K-12 classrooms.

    Why is the US DOE effectively requiring states to support such a flawed document?

  5. OK, here’s a fact, Zeev. My district receives less than $500/student from the state/feds. The state is talking about cutting that even further. At one point are we free to just kiss the state off?

  6. I assume you are in what we call here in California a “basic aid” school district, which gets most of its revenues from local property taxes. The answer is that in principle, yes. In practice, you must follow many of the rules whether you get that $700 or not, as they are in the state education code and not tied to funding. Fiscal responsibility is one example. Free access to education, meaning no fees for curricular activities (incl. textbooks, uniforms, whatever) is another.

    Your score on the annual test has–in most states–no direct impact on your school, whether you take those $700 or not. The impact is through the press, as your results are published, and the school board is elected. If you are in a persistently failing district that did not meet its AYP for many years in a row (3-5 years; it gets complicated here 🙂 and (if I recall correctly — please check) only if you are a Title I school, then you may get additional sanctions (initially technical assistance and more money, eventually up to reconstitution of the school). And that will happen only rarely, as there are too many low performing schools and the states cannot handle them all.

    Bottom line, you can rather safely ignore the annual assessment for a very long time if you feel comfortable with bad press and have the community and the school board solidly behind you. Do you???