New California Report Questioning Common Core Misses the Mark

Researchers from Stanford University, UCLA and UC Berkeley claim the Common Core “deprofessionalizes teaching and narrows the curriculum” and “reduces the quality of education and student learning, engagement and success,” Valerie Strauss reports in the Washington Post.

First, educators and administrators from across the country say otherwise. Support for Common Core State Standards remains strong, and many teachers report improvements in student learning and engagement. A Harvard University study released last month found teachers and principals “have largely embraced the new standards.” Nearly three-quarters of teachers reported they had embraced Common Core State Standards “quite a bit” or “fully,” as did a majority of principals.

Second, the Common Core is a set of academic standards – not a curriculum. They are a guide of learning goals for states, districts, and schools to use as they develop their own unique curriculum. Instead of “narrowing” the curriculum, many teachers have used the Common Core State Standards to take their lessons to new creative heights.

The report also questions the validity of Common Core-aligned assessments. However, a recent report by NNSTOY – based on analysis by  State Teachers of the Year – found that the award-winning educators agreed unanimously that the Common Core-aligned assessments were a vast improvement over their state’s old assessments. “I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” wrote Pam Reilly, a former Illinois Teacher of the Year and a participant in the study.

The California study also suggests that a “nationwide set of curriculum standards, including those like the CCSS, will either raise the quality of education for all children or close the gap between different groups of children.”

When it comes to standards and assessments, raising the bar does improve student opportunities for students. A recent analysis by Achieve finds that by implementing high-quality assessments states have begun closing discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and those identified by NAEP.

Additionally, in California, at least 25 college and university presidents have endorsed the Common Core, including: William Covino, president of UCLA; Jeffrey Armstrong, president of California Polytechnic State University; Linda Katehi, chancellor of UC Davis; and Brice Harris, chancellor of California community colleges, among others.