Common Core News Roundup

Annie TeichHunting the Pearl Among the Oysters: Roundup of Common Core News

It takes just 1 ½ seconds to overload on information about the current state of Common Core. Simply Google “Common Core news,” and you’ll have more news and opinion than you can digest in one sitting.

Which states still support it? How many elections hinge on the candidates’ positions? Who is teaching by the standards this year, but not testing? How many states are revisiting, revising, and renaming the standards? What do educators say? What about parents? Who is pulling out of the testing consortia? Who stayed in?

The answers to some of these questions can be found in a comprehensive state-by-state summary article from Salon. Here are some observations:

  • States that passed, modified the Common Core State Standards, and renamed them include: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. North Carolina and other states are in various stages of reviewing and revising them after first adopting them.
  • Governors are often involved in promoting or leading the charge against the standards. This has been the case in Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. This November it is a core campaign issue for governors’ races in Connecticut and Wisconsin.
  • In some states, parents are vocal opponents of the standards like in New York where dissatisfaction led thousands of parents to “opt out” of the 2014 exams.

Although public opinion continues to shift, a recent Gallup/EdWeek poll revealed that 73% of district superintendents surveyed said that the Common Core was just about right for their students. Only 20% recommended pulling out, and more than two-thirds of the superintendents said that states should remain with their testing consortia. Of course, there are a number of states where the ultimate decision to stay with or change the standards may be made by politicians and not by educators. It’s also evident that some districts have not done a good job of explaining the standards to parents.

What is the status of testing agreements with PARCC and Smarter Balanced?

The costs of new assessments aligned to the standards are considerable. Georgia pulled out of their consortium agreement when they found out their cost of the testing program. They have hired CTB/McGraw Hill to develop a state test for Georgia. Florida is considering pulling out of their consortium. Michigan legislators directed the state to delay a year and develop their own state assessment program. Minnesota also chose to use its own assessments. Tennessee lawmakers have voted to delay Common Core testing for another year.

However, millions of dollars of testing contracts have been awarded. EdWeek reports that familiar players dominate the testing market. Together, PARCC and Smarter Balanced have awarded CTB/McGraw Hill $72.5 million worth of contracts; Pearson is in second place with $63 million; and ETS is in third with $42.6 million. Others include Amplify for $20.5 million and AIR (American Institute for Research) at $18.9 million. Some states are bypassing the consortia and dealing directly with the testing companies themselves. For example, Mississippi just hired Pearson to develop their state tests for $8.3 million.

Clearly implementation of Common Core is more disjointed than the state departments of education had originally planned. In the end, does it really matter what the standards are called as long as they result in students being better equipped for college and career and have parity with students around the world?

If you have an opinion or observation about this changing landscape, we’d love to hear it.