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Continued: Common Core bickering heats up as standards take effect; buyer's remorse hits policymakers?

  • Article by: KIMBERLY HEFLING , Associated Press
  • Last update: September 2, 2014 - 12:35 AM

The standards were a response from governors in a defensive mode to keep the federal government out of education, Perdue said, and he supported the changes out of concern for U.S. students' global competitiveness. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among backers.

"It's just a situation that I don't think should have become political, which has become politically toxic and I don't really know how to decontaminate that," Perdue said.

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SHIFTING PUBLIC OPINION

A PDK/Gallup Poll released Aug. 20 found a dramatic change in the number of people aware of the standards. Last year, two-thirds of those surveyed said they'd never heard of the standards. This year, 81 percent said they had — and 6 in 10 said they oppose them.

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the national organization representing school superintendents, said polling provides more evidence it's important to "slow down to get it right."

This school year marks a milestone. This coming spring, roughly 11 million students in more than half the states are expected to take new computer-based assessments aligned with Common Core standards that were developed by two groups of states to replace the standardized tests that had been used.

States can choose the assessment to be used, but those decisions have not been without controversy. Some states, including Georgia and Michigan, that originally joined the consortiums, have dropped out and opted for different tests.

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AWAITING RESULTS

The rollout of Common Core-based tests will be watched closely for computer glitches and other problems, as well as to see how well students perform.

The ambition of Common Core is "quite broad," said Jonathan Supovitz, co-director at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He said the standards have the potential to bring new tools and technologies into classrooms and lead to greater student mastery of subjects, but it will take time.

"This is not going to happen overnight. It's going to take lots of resources and lots of teacher exposure to new ways of doing things and we're just at the beginning of that process," Supovitz said.

Many state lawmakers aren't willing to wait.

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STATE PUSHBACK

Jindal initially supported Common Core. He said that's because the standards were first presented as a bottoms-up approach, but "the reality is what it has become is another tool for the federal government to try to dictate curriculum."

He suspended contracts that the state Department of Education planned to use to buy testing material aligned with the standards. White and education board leaders say the governor overstepped his legal authority, and they sued. A state district judge has since said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students and he lifted Jindal's suspension of the contracts. The decision allows White to move ahead with Common Core-tied testing plans until a full trial is held later over the legality of Jindal's executive orders against the standards.

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