A poll this week by the Salt Lake Tribune finds 51 percent of respondents believe Utah’s Common Core State Standards should be replaced. Forty-six percent say schools should stop using SAGE, the statewide assessment aligned to the standards.
“It’s almost like they want to make it all teacher proof,” one participant claimed. “Like we’re moving toward having a machine teach our kids.”
The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics disagrees – and recently issued a resolution supporting the Common Core. “Utah Core Standards define what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level and advance equity of outcomes for Utah students by setting a bar for student performance… The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics strongly supports the newly revised Utah Core Mathematics Standards and the appropriate use of SAGE testing in Utah Schools.”
Unfortunately, much confusion about the standards remains—which the poll points out. “These words tend to be used in sound bites,” explains Jason Perry, director of the organization that conducted the survey. “But many in the community at large simply don’t understand the terms.”
Last fall, Karen Nussle explained, “Few people have a deep knowledge base about Common Core, and misunderstandings and misconceptions continue to color opinions about the standards.” National polling, Nussle points out, shows that “support for high, consistent standards, by any name, remains strikingly high.”
States that have chosen to replace their assessments to appease critics have created chaos for schools, incurred greater costs and jeopardized their ability to compare progress to other states.
“Beyond the costs, time constraints and technical challenges that accompany the development and implementation of new assessments, states that have struck out on their own have also jeopardized their ability to compare their progress to other states—and may very well come out with an inferior assessment in the process,” Jim Cowen explains.
Leaders in Utah should use this moment to better inform parents about the changes happening in classrooms and to further refine and build on the Common Core. As the evidence suggests, the alternative is a much worse outcome for students.