Bait & Switch?

September 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM Leave a comment

Or How to Gain New Standards without Losing Accountability

NCLB has our backs against the wall. An escape hatch is in sight with the Common Core and its related assessments. The urge to latch onto the new approach prematurely will not enhance its implementation. Nor will it benefit the children who are being excluded in strong schools or lost in the mayhem of chaotic schools.

One cannot adopt the current draft of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and quickly swap out NCLB accountabilities. Any new set of standards must evolve over time to reflect the shared vision of a global village as large as the US. Beta testing of new assessments necessarily will trail the solidification of these standards against which to judge performance.   In the meantime, our children cannot wait. So, how do we achieve a national curriculum while keeping our promise to the children who have not been served?

Ironically, success with CCSS hinges on short-term extension of NCLB. There is a perception of urgency for adoption of the Common Core. One real reason for this collective unreality is the closing window on leaving children behind. As NCLB puts our backs against the wall, we can either work even harder to educate the children, or we can rally around the Common Core and NCLB waivers. True proponents and false prophets of the Common Core both are banking on the latter.

CCSS authors are legitimately pleased with their work. As realists, however, they also see the need for an orderly transition from NCLB to the Common Core and new measures of accountability. Undermining NCLB with waivers, however, falls short as an interim strategy. Once in place, waivers will allow a huge, collective sigh of relief. Let off the hook, educators will be back in their comfort zone, happily debating pedagogy and the details of standards and their corresponding assessments indefinitely. This loss of momentum will be devastating to another generation of children at risk.

High stakes tests for NCLB are real. Assessments related to the Common Core are analogous to vaporware. Adopting CCSS today has nothing to do with accountability to our students. Nor will the industry move quickly to encumber itself with new performance measures once freed from them.

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Entry filed under: Common Core State Standards, Issues and Ideas. Tags: .

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