American Enterprise Institute scholar Mike McShane illustrates in US News & World Report how the implementation of common core standards and its assessment infrastructures are creating problems. One of these is unfolding now in several states. McShane points out that no one is really in charge.
The standards were developed by two organizations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and they, along with a group of affiliated non-profits and foundations, worked to get the standards adopted. None of the organizations has any teeth to ensure that states live up to their commitments. If states lower their cut scores (PARCC or Smarter Balanced) for students on the aligned assessments, who will hold them to account? Ceding state power to an organization that could would be the very thing local control advocates fear. Failing to have a body that can hold states accountable could allow the same “50 states, 50 standards” problem that the Common Core was created to solve.
This observation is taking place right now is a handful of states. The legislatures of Michigan and Pennsylvania are currently considering strong anti-Common Core bills. Oklahoma’s education commissioner announced this week that her state was pulling out of PARCC but is fighting to keep the standards.
Education Week reporter Benjamin Herold explains that Oklahoma was no way near tech ready for PARCC. Herold doesn’t estimate how much it would cost, but concerns for Oklahoma taxpayers doesn’t stop corporate-funded Stand for Children from condemning the decision.
McShane addresses these state’s issues writing that “politics can derail the standards” and concludes the following is already the result.
If implementation is paused, what happens? Teachers are left in the lurch, not knowing what to teach, states are unsure about the waivers they received to No Child Left Behind’s requirements and a year or two of children’s education is lost while leaders develop a Plan B.
Florida appears to not have the tech mountain to climb that does Oklahoma. But the legislature failed to vote on a bi-partisan data mining bill (required by Race to the Top and necessary to be part of the consortium) at the last moment this spring when vigorous conservative and tea party displeasure emerged. Without data mining there can be no Common Core-PARCC.
Tony Bennett’s not saying anything about a Plan B anymore in Florida, but he’s in the driver’s seat. He was tasked with making Common Core-PARCC happen by Governor Rick Scott when he got the job in December of 2012, although this was prior to the political fallout. Bennett has apparently already made up his mind on what changes he’ll recommend for this year’s school grade formula but has indicated he won’t do anything that will jeopardize Common Core-PARCC roll-out.
So Bennett is prioritizing Common Core-PARCC over everything else. It’s what’s best for Bennett’s agenda but maybe not Florida’s. In Florida, a rubber-stamp board of education will sign off on anything Bennett suggests.