Accountability Common Core Testing

Peter Greene on the WSJ Analysis of Common Core’s Death Spiral

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Peter Greene read the WSJ article that was just posted on the blog, and he saw it as confirmation of what he long ago predicted: the dream of national standards and tests is dead. Whatever you may call the Common Core, there will not be one big set of standards and one big standardized test for all (or even two big standardized tests for all).

In other words, the dream that Common Core would be the single educational vision of the entire country– that dream is dead. Dead dead deadity dead.

But Rothfeld’s piece lays out a not-always-recognized (at least, not by people who don’t actually work in education) culprit for the demise. He lists the usual suspects– politics, testing, federal overreach. But the article is most interested in another malefactor– finances.

“The total cost of implementing Common Core is difficult to determine because the country’s education spending is fragmented among thousands of districts. The Wall Street Journal looked at spending by states and large school districts and found that more than $7 billion had been spent or committed in connection with the new standards.”

That’s billion-with-a-B (and that rhymes with P and that stands for “Probably still underestimating the total cost”). WSJ looked at all sorts of records and figures that still doesn’t count things like the training budgets that have been turned into Common Core training budgets.

So it isn’t working, states are dropping out of the tests and the standards too.

And he allows Vicki Phillips to repeat her claims about the awesomeness of Kentucky without being challenged. In fact, Rothfeld doesn’t really challenge anything about the Core, and in a way, that’s what makes this article so brutal– whether the Core is any good or not is beside his point, which is that the whole business just isn’t working, and it’s costing a ton of money to boot.

Will historians in the future look back and review the short life and rapid death of the Common Core standards as the educational equivalent of the Edsel? New Coke? There must be a Museum of Failed Educational Experiments and Fads somewhere. If there is, a special place should be reserved for CCSS, because it not only was imposed by the federal government and the Gates Foundation without any deference to democratic process, but it wasted billions of dollars that might have been better spent on reducing class sizes, restoring arts education, promoting desegregation.

I confess that I once believed in the value of national standards. The experience of Common Core has proven that national standards are a waste of time and money, that we will best improve education by improving the conditions of teaching and learning and by reducing poverty and segregation. These are hard but achievable goals. They will change the lives of children across the nation for the better. National standards and tests might be imposed, but even if they were, they would do nothing to improve the lives of children or communities or our society.

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