Common Core doubts

Will the Common Core Create World-Class Learners?  Yong Zhao, a University of Oregon education professor, has doubts in an Ed Week interview with Anthony Cody.

“Judging from the accomplishment of NCLB and Race to the Top, I would say that five years from now, American education will still be said to be broken and obsolete. We will find out that the Common Core Standards, after billions of dollars, millions of hours of teacher time, and numerous PD sessions, alignment task forces, is not the cure to American’s education ill. Worse yet, we will likely have most of nation’s schools teaching to the common tests aligned with the Common Core. As a result, we will see a further narrowing of the curriculum and educational experiences. Whatever innovative teaching that has not been completely lost in the schools may finally be gone. And then we will have a nation of students, teachers, and schools who are compliant with the Common Core Standards, but we may not have much else left.”

Other than that, he’s a big fan.

Zhao is the author of Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.

Conservatives are pushing back against Common Core Standards, writes the Wall Street Journal. Some state legislators who felt rushed into adopting the standards are having second thoughts.

There are rumblings from all sides. The common standards and assessments represent the “antithesis of progressive values,” writes Jack Hassard on The Art of Teaching Science. “The idea of having a single set of standards and associated assessments appears to remove individuality, creativity and innovation from American classrooms.”

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  1. Zhao is understandably horrified by the U.S. adoption of the very techniques that rendered his early childhood education in China something tantamount to a joke or waste of time.

  2. SteveH says:

    It’s a bad interview and he is just pushing his book. He is not the first or the last to question the standards.

    “Whatever innovative teaching that has not been completely lost in the schools may finally be gone. ”

    What innovative teaching is he talking about? The direction instruction and large homework sets that prepare so many for STEM careers? The curricula and high expectations that make students laugh at CCSS? I don’t think so.

    “As a result, we will see a further narrowing of the curriculum and educational experiences.”

    No. It attempts to raise the low-end bar above the current hodgepodge of NCLB state standards. (Some compain that it goes in the wrong direction for some states.) However, just raising the bar won’t fix the problems. Zhao plays the poverty card, but that’s only one issue. If he wants an expansion of pedagogical approaches, then he should promote choice,

    It’s annoying that in my son’s high school honors classes, the teachers are already citing book, chapter, and verse of the Core Standards. They are required to do it even though their bar should be set much higher. In fact, the standards are meaningless for those heading for AP classes. You can consider SAT and AP tests as the high bar, but the lower Core Standards will not help many kids make the transition to the high bar from K-8. There will still be the haves and the have-nots. This is not strictly a poverty issue. Curriculum, pedagogy, and expectations play huge rolls, and there is also the specific teaching and help that is provided by many parents at home. It’s not just about turning off the TV and going to museums.

    There are a lot of issues so you have to define your assumptions and separate the variables.