Kansas blog gets it wrong on Common Core, assessments, and textbooks

A Topeka Capital-Journal blog published Wednesday called the Common Core State Standards “not good at all,” stating that America “didn’t become a great nation by mimicking China before and we shouldn’t be doing it now with this foolish love affair we have with standardized testing.” The author also asserts that “nearly half of surveyed teachers consider quitting the teaching profession all together over the high stakes testing required by common core” and critiqued lessons in text books that claim to be aligned to the standards.

In actuality, educators disagree with those claims. Last year 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote, “The Common Core is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction… under the common core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

Not only do teachers see the value in the Common Core State Standards, but according to a study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, teachers also agree that the next generation assessments PARCC and Smarter Balanced (aligned to the Common Core State Standards) outperformed many states’ old tests. “I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” Pam Reilly, a participant in the research, wrote last year.

Additionally, the author’s concerns about content in “Common Core” textbooks and textbook companies in general are not related to a problem with the Common Core State Standards. If you look at the standards, they cover bare-bone concepts (they do not detail content). Textbook companies have been around for decades, long before Common Core, creating both good and bad content throughout the years. It is important that schools have the best resources in their classrooms, but that is related to state and local decisions about curriculum and content, not something that repealing the Common Core State Standards would fix. It is common to see “bad Common Core problems” circling the internet, but a vast majority of those cases are about problems with textbooks and local curriculum or lesson plan decisions, not anything to do with the standards outlined in Common Core.

As former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett wrote last year, “Lies, myths, exaggerations and hysteria about what the Common Core means and does have dominated the ‘debate’ and the real issues have been obscured… Opponents of the Common Core know they can fan the flames of opposition far more effectively with these sensational and scurrilous accusations rather than engaging in an honest, intellectual policy debate.”

Click here to see what the Common Core State Standards actually are.