When It Comes to Education Standards, Is Massachusetts on Track To Be More Like Oklahoma?

Efforts to decentralize education are not enough to undo the pestilent Common Core State Standards, Sandra Stotsky claims in the New Boston Post. “The truth is that mediocre standards, a poor curriculum based on them, and academically under-qualified teachers are the biggest problems facing our schools–and they are likely to persist even with decentralization.”

Stotsky argues parents should fight “elites” by supporting a Massachusetts ballot initiative that would repeal the state’s Common Core Standards. “Dissident parents and educators will need to be vigilant if they are to ensure that Common Core is not re-imposed through the back door.”

Stotsky’s advice risks putting Massachusetts on a path similar to that of Oklahoma, which created a great deal of uncertainty and disruption in classrooms only to come out with standards inferior to the Common Core. “Attempting to appease politically-charged critics… [Oklahoma ended up with] a final product that experts say lacks the depth and rigor needed for 21st century students,” Karen Nussle explains in a recent memo.

A white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes the evidence from the only states to replace the Common Core—Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina—shows there are only two outcomes from such an ill-advised path: a rebranding of the Common Core, or, new standards that are inferior to Common Core State Standards.

Massachusetts voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards because they hold all students to levels that prepare them to graduate high school ready for college or a career, and they empower educators and parents to compare how well their schools are doing to others across the country. And they are having an impact.

An analysis by Achieve found more than half of states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps” by implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessment. Massachusetts was recognized as a “Top Truth Teller” for reporting proficiency rates closely aligned to those found by NAEP.

Parents and policymakers in Massachusetts have a choice: they can allow politically motivated pressure to replace the Common Core with inferior standards, or, they can continue to refine and build on the success of high standards and accurate student assessments, as most states across the country have.