Common Core’s A-Team

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Blogger Mercedes Schneider has well researched and documented here and here that the initial working group tasked to develop and draft the Common Core State Standards was an exclusive and elite team of mostly inexperienced (classroom teaching) education “experts”.

As David Coleman’s A-Team was expanded, it is clear that new members outside the “inner circle” would play a supporting, rather than active role in the deliberations. A recent report by the New America Foundation contends that most colleges have not played a meaningful role or been actively involved in development of the Common Core State Standards.

A transcript of a speech given by Coleman during a 2011 meeting at the Institute for Learning reveals that as members were added to the group, open discussion and debate of the Standards was not expected or encouraged.

Participants were welcome to drop comments in the suggestion box, but pencils and erasers were in limited supply, and preferably checked at the door,..

“Student Achievement Partners, all you need to know about us are a couple things. One is we’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards. And our only qualification was our attention to and command of the evidence behind them. That is, it was our insistence in the standards process that it was not enough to say you wanted to or thought that kids should know these things, that you had to have evidence to support it, frankly because it was our conviction that the only way to get an eraser into the standards writing room was with evidence behind it, cause otherwise the way standards are written you get all the adults into the room about what kids should know, and the only way to end the meeting is to include everything. That‟s how we’ve gotten to the typical state standards we have today.”

Little doubt Coleman summoned his elite A-Team to do the exclusive “heavy lifting” of developing and drafting the Standards and just as John “Hannibal” Smith would gloat each episode, I can almost hear David Coleman rejoicing…”I love it when a plan comes together!”

Despite the poorly planned roll out and rushed assessment of the Standards, it has been suggested that decoupling the Common Core from the standardized assessments will solve many of the problems.

After a close reading of the transcript of Coleman’s 2011 speech It is obvious that the Standards were written with the expressed purpose of being tested in a standardized way.

David Coleman fully expected the Common Core standardized tests to be the dominant driver of instruction; not the Standards, or teachers, and certainly not our students…

“… these standards are worthy of nothing if the assessments built on them are not worthy of teaching to, period…But lets be rather clear: we’re at the start of something here, and its promise – our top priorities in our organization, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about our organization, is to do our darnedest to ensure that the assessment is worthy of your time, is worthy of imitation. It was Lauren who propounded the great rule that I think is a statement of reality, though not a pretty one, which is teachers will teach towards the test. There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent that. There is no amount of hand-waving, there‟s no amount of saying, “They teach to the standards, not the test; we don‟t do that here.” Whatever. The truth is – and if I misrepresent you, you are welcome to take the mic back. But the truth is teachers do. Tests exert an enormous effect on instructional practice, direct and indirect, and its hence our obligation to make tests that are worthy of that kind of attention. It is in my judgment the single most important work we have to do over the next two years to ensure that that is so, period.”

David Coleman, 2011 Keynote Speech; Institute for Learning and View Speech Here

Passion-less national learning standards that were crafted primarily by a select team of mostly inexperienced experts and written to meet the demands of standardized tests, rather than the needs of individual learners, would certainly benefit from a close read and quite possibly a complete overhaul.

Is Pluto a Planet

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7 thoughts on “Common Core’s A-Team

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