Common Core Alive and Well in Massachusetts

Sometimes I wonder if some opponents of the Common Core are taking their cues from the Vladimir Lenin quote: “A lie told often enough becomes truth.”

Because that’s exactly what they’re hoping to happen with the recent – and rampant – misreporting around Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester’s recent announcement that the state will be using a mix of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) items for their assessment system.

Whether it’s a Heritage Foundation researcher conflating standards and assessments, or an education scholar who at best blatantly got the facts wrong or at worst, is deliberately misleading his audience  – the rampant misreporting has only served to make the Common Core a political football and detracts from the consequential matter of student learning and achievement.

Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Common Core is very much alive and thriving in Massachusetts.

But don’t just take it from me. Commissioner Chester’s opinion piece in the New York Times on November 27th reiterated Massachusetts’ support for the Common Core and for the high-quality test questions provided by the PARCC assessment, as did a statement he gave to Politico Pro:

“[The national media has] inaccurately described Massachusetts as ‘abandoning’ the Common Core and PARCC. We have not abandoned either one…”

Massachusetts will remain a member of the PARCC coalition and will continue to administer the PARCC assessment in spring 2016, while the new assessment is developed. The hybrid assessment will include both PARCC assessment items, as well as Massachusetts-specific items.

The PARCC governing board, which includes Chester, recently expanded options for states so that the PARCC assessment could be customized, while still allowing the assessments to provide comparable data.

This unnecessary politicization of the Common Core and the PARCC assessment only hurts our students.

Let’s turn our focus back to what matters: ensuring all students in Massachusetts, and across the country, are receiving a high quality education.




Jim Cowen is the Deputy Director of the Collaborative for Student Success.