As we all well know, last year the U.S. Department of Education awarded $350 million to develop new assessments to go with our Common Core State Standards. Those assessment consortia — the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) — have been working to start developing the tests that measure the achievement of the student performance against the new common standards.
In case you missed it, about two weeks ago the Pearson Foundation announced that it was receiving funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a national K-12 curriculum. Gates ponied up $3 million to have Pearson develop 24 courses, 11 in math and 13 in English-Language Arts. At the announcement, both foundations positioned it as the next logical step in the adoption of Common Core State Standards.
Over at ASCDedge (a professional networking community managed by, of course, ASCD), Steven Weber reflects on recent Education Week coverage on the topic of Common Core State Standards and how it relates to curriculum. One of the key questions Weber asks those in “the community” is “Do you think that the Common Core State Standards are curriculum or do you believe there is a distinct difference between standards and curriculum?”
The standards are informed by the highest, most effective models from states across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn. Consistent standards will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.
These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:
- Are aligned with college and work expectations;
- Are clear, understandable and consistent;
- Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- Are evidence-based.
As the great Yogi Berra is reported as saying, it’s like deja vu all over again!
First it was common core standards. Then common core assessments. Today, the Al Shanker Institute started talking about common core curriculum. But instead of calling for a true national curriculum, the logical next step in the common core movement, they call for curriculum, defined as a “sequential set of guidelines in the core academic disciplines.” is it too bold to ask for someone, anyone to come out and call for a national curriculum?
For the past three years, Eduflack has touted the role the states (and localities) play in true school improvement. As “interesting” as the federal role is with its carrot/stick approach, the real work is happening at the SEA/LEA level. That was the case during the NCLB era, and it is certainly the case as we move into the College- and Career-Readiness Act era (OK, we need a catchy acronym for what EdSec Duncan and company are dreaming up for ESEA.) Real change, real improvement, and real decisions are ultimately found in our state capitals.
Today, the 112th Congress officially takes its seat. Anyone who watched the November elections realizes that a major change in philosophy takes the gavel in Washington, riding on the momentum of the “Tea Party” movement.