Common Core Standards: Who’s in Charge?

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.





About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to Common Core Standards: Who’s in Charge?

  1. kenpreviti says:

    “In 2009, two nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations called the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), convened government officials and dozens of consultants to write, rewrite, and, in June 2010, finally publish Common Core.”

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