Many parents have expressed concern over the Common Core State Standards and the statewide PARCC test aligned to those standards. The PARCC is being used to drive curriculum and for high stakes decisions involving individual students, teachers and schools. Immediately following the release of the Common Core Standards, the Alliance for Childhood released this Joint Statement on Core Standards, which summarizes concerns on the standards.
Specifically, parents are concerned regarding:
* Implementation and the cost of implementation,
* Lack of local control and input,
* The use of the PARCC test as a graduation requirement, teacher evaluation tool or career tracking mechanism,
* Standards were developed by backtracking instead of based on child development milestones,
* Privacy issues regarding the use of student’s identifiable information,
* Common Core curriculum forced on districts as an unfunded mandate,
* Inability for teachers or parents to see the tests before or after students have taken them, and more.
* Deep concern over the amount of testing in the younger grades and the developmental appropriateness of the content.
* Emphasis on college and career ready skills versus a broad educational foundationIn addition, parents have serious concerns over data privacy and the use of their children’s personal identifiable information and how it is being used and stored.
In Rhode Island, several parent based groups including Stop Common Core in RI and several local Collapse the Core groups are challenging the Common Core in towns across the state. More info can be found on their websites and Facebook pages below:
As of February 2015, 41 states (including RI) have or will implement the Common Core State Standards.
4 states never adopted the Common Core (TX, VA, NB, AK); and 5 states are developing other standards (NC, SC, MO, OK, IN).
Of those states still proceeding with the Common Core, 29 have ‘re-branded’ the name and don’t call it Common Core because of public backlash.
15 states currently have legislation looking to repeal or change the standards in their states.
According to a report published by EDWEEK February 4, 2015, here is the latest update on the use of the Common Core tests by state:PARCC – 10 states + DC
SBAC – 18 states
Other tests – 21 states
Not yet decided – 1 state (In MA, districts were given option of utilizing MCAS or PARCC for the 2014-15 school year. Recently, Governor Charlie Baker announced a full review of the MCAS and PARCC to determine which test will be used going forward.)
What is Common Core?
In basic terms, the Common Core State Standards are a uniform set of English and math guidelines that are meant to be adopted by all states. Ultimately, whether in Maine or New Mexico, students will essentially learn the same content in math and English throughout the country.
For a full history, you have to go back to the start of the standards based reform movement under President Ronald Regan following the 1983 report A Nation at Risk. The report cited that student test scores in the US were not as high as test scores in other countries. In 1989, the first of several education summits attended by all 50 state governors and then President George H. W. Bush, resulted in the adoption of national education goals including content standards that could be adopted by all states. In 1994, President Bill Clinton also adopted a standards based education policy.
In 1996, the summit convened once again with 40 governors and 49 corporate executives. The business leaders expressed concern over competing in a global economy where tests showed other countries outperforming the US in basic academic skills. At the 1996 summit, they created a mission:
“To start a national effort to establish high academic standards, assessment and accountability and improve the use of school technology as a tool to reach high standards.”
To help accomplish this goal, the business leaders created an organization called Achieve to serve as an independent “clearinghouse for standards information and benchmarks and public reporting.” The premise was that students who perform well in high school will be rewarded with good career prospects and college admissions. (Hence, the ‘college and career’ focus that are the current buzz words for education reform.)
Businesses dangled an additional incentive to states indicating that they would place ‘high priority on the quality of a state’s academic standards and student achievement when determining business location decisions.”
In 2001, No Child Left Behind was created to implement standards based reform requiring high standards and the creation of student assessments to measure basic skills. However, standards and assessments would be determined by the states.
That same year, Achieve joined with other educational and business organizations to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP). In 2004, the ADP issued a report called Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts. This report identified the benchmarks in English and math that high school graduates need for success in college or career.
The development of the common core standards by Achieve, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School officers began in 2009; and in 2010, the Common Core State Standards were officially released. Funding for the CCSS and test development was provided by participating states, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and others.
Achieve also served as project manager for creating the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC. The PARCC tests were originally adopted by 26 states including Rhode Island and Massachusetts plus the District of Columbia. 30 states adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessments, including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. (11 states initially signed agreements with both testing companies).
While states were given the option of voluntarily adopting the Common Core, President Obama took it one step further by tying the adoption of common standards as a requirement for receiving Race to the Top funding or waivers from No Child Left Behind. As cash strapped states were eager to gain additional funding, most states signed on to adopt the Common Core and to align with one of these two multi-state testing consortiums without any lengthy review period or debate.
State implementation of the Common Core generally began in 2010-11 and the testing officially began 2014-15 school year. Initially, 45 states formally adopted the Common Core standards. Yet, one by one, many states have reconsidered their support of the standards and/or the PARCC/SBAC test.
Interestingly, opposition to the Common Core comes from both the left and the right wings of the political spectrum.
Groups as diverse as the Brookings Institute, progressives such as Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier, the libertarian Cato institute and the conservative Heritage Foundation, have all expressed strong opposition to the Common Core. A group of Conservative Republican governors and Tea Party groups have also strongly criticized the Common Core and have started mobilizing to oppose it.
As mentioned, a few states have already withdrawn from adopting the Common Core standards and a several more are now considering it.