Core-aligned means . . . nothing?

In part 3 of Dispatches from a nervous Common Core observer, AEI’s Michael McShane wonders what it means for curriculum to be “aligned” to the new Common Core standards. An Amazon search for Common Core yields more than 32,000 results, he writes. Most are aimed at teachers. Nearly all claim to be “aligned to the Common Core.”

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Teachers College professor Lucy Calkins (et al) seems to be most popular.

Kathleen Porter-Magee, the Fordham Institute’s Common Core expert, is unimpressed:

“Part ideological co-opting of the Common Core (CCSS) and part defense of existing—and poorly aligned—materials produced by Heinemann, the book is the leading edge of an all-out effort to ensure that adoption of the new standards requires very few changes on the part of some of the leading voices—and biggest publishing houses—in education.”

Calkins tells readers that the Common Core marginalizes “the low-level literacy work of sound-letter correspondence,” a “patently false” and “damaging” rewriting of the standards, writes Porter-Magee.

“Even the best-selling book on the topic might not be aligned to the Common Core,” writes McShane. “What about the other 31,999?”

. . . pretty much anyone can slap a “Common Core Aligned” sticker onto a textbook, professional development module, or supplemental resource. It is incumbent on states, districts, and schools to wade through all of these, but given the enormous volume of resources out there, they’re drinking from a fire hose. Without some meaningful vetting process, all of the benefits of the nationwide market for new tools will be washed away in the flood of misaligned materials.

That’s problematic, writes Bill Evers, who worked on California’s standards, in an email. “If all the teaching materials labeled Common Core are weak and not aligned, then the program will not bring about whatever improvement in achievement that it has the potential for (not much in my opinion) and will waste a considerable amount of money.  On the other hand, if the Common Core-niks establish a common vetting office, that would be the final step in instituting a national curriculum.”

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