Several years into the era of common core state standards (CCSS), there has been no shortage of challenge and opportunity, debate and disagreement. Through it all, education practitioners have been among the staunchest champions for the new standards and their success. That was one of the several findings of an expert panel hosted last week by the DC think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Panelists discussed some of the issues that have tripped up the advancement of the CCSS and what the viability of the standards are beyond the November mid-term elections. Their bottom line: CCSS long term survival looks pretty likely, but given some of the rhetoric at the state and federal level, nothing is a sure thing.
While a couple of states have pulled out of the common core, states and school districts delaying testing or not investing in classroom materials are more likely to derail, or at least delay, full implementation of the standards. Panelists shared this sentiment and were fairly confident that we aren’t likely to see a mass exodus of states from the CCSS after the election.
While it’s clear that, for political decision makers, the CCSS has become a sort of bogeyman that they’d like to delay, this view has not been shared by educators. On the local level, educators remain some of the strongest supporters of the standards, and their biggest concerns of late are ensuring they have the training, support, technology and content needed to implement the standards properly in their classrooms.
Panelist Catherine Gewertz of Education Week suggested that proper implementation and having quality instructional materials and content was of a higher priority for educators than the concerns of policymakers over data privacy. While this isn’t to say privacy is not an issue, it makes clear that we should be having more robust conversations in states about the level of commitment needed to equip classrooms and teachers with the necessary tools to implement an entirely new set of standards and curriculum.
One other unanswered question is what will be the federal role in the CCSS post midterms. A Republican Senate may wind down the Department of Education’s ability to provide incentives. The AEI and the Council of Chief State School Officers would support a federal shift from recruiting every state to ensuring comparability and rigor of data and standards across self-committed states.