Sunday / May 19

What’s Going On With the Common Core?

As Publisher for Corwin Literacy, I come into contact with many thought leaders in my travels, particularly with those in the literacy world. The question that has been and still appears to be on everyone’s mind is this: What’s going to happen with the Common Core Standards? Are they here to stay? Is the whole thing collapsing? And how will the assessment roll-out next year impact whether they stay or go?

In the literacy world, opinions vary widely (even wildly). Talk to one person and the Common Core is on the verge of collapse as evidenced by Indiana’s recent reversal of their adoption. In Florida, the standards have been renamed and tweaked to appease protesters, and in Arizona there are similar goings on. In New York the backlash is perhaps the strongest, where last fall the union, which represents more than 600,000 education professionals in the state, unanimously voted to withdraw its support for the Common Core State Standards as they are being implemented, and declared no confidence in the state’s education commissioner (US News and World Report, January 14, 2014).

But not everyone is so disgruntled or discouraged. Another thought leader tells me from his vantage point the CCSS movement is stronger than ever and is certainly in no danger of collapsing. And the books that top the best seller lists in literacy—at Corwin and elsewhere—are clearly and consistently linked to Common Core implementation.

The market is clearly telling publishers that this is what sells.

Someone wants it, whether it is administrators, other school leaders, or the teachers themselves. And while thought leaders in literacy seem to differ a great deal to the degrees that they like or don’t like the standards, there seems to be a more middle-of-the-road movement emerging. A “let’s keep them as a base and work to refine and improve them as we go” thinking.

What’s happening where you are? Are you as uncertain as all this about where things will land? And where do you hope this all leads to in a few years…?

Written by

A life-long New Englander, Lisa was born in Connecticut, raised in Maine, and went to college in Vermont and New Hampshire. Armed with a BA in English and a masters degree in teaching secondary English, she taught high school in Maine, became a sales representative for Macmillan’s college division, and taught high school English in an IB program in Slovenia, but she landed her dream job—as an editor for Heinemann’s secondary college English lists—in 1997. After thirteen years there, she landed her second dream job—as Publisher of Literacy for Corwin.

Latest comments

  • I have 44 years of experience in the classroom both as teacher and administrator. I have seen programs come and programs go. Sometimes I see the same program called by a new name. Our biggest problem in education is we do not teach to mastery any more. we expect too much from children in Kindergarten. We should just be teaching basics, simple basics. I have seen too many children leave kindergarten not ready for first grade. These same kids get moved along so the failure rate is non-existent for the school, let’s not affect the school performance score by holding back a child who would benefit by another year at the same grade level. But we push them along, hoping they will one day miraculously “catch up”. I was once told by a Federal Assistant Superintendent of Education for Special Education that if never let a child out of first grade that could not read and comprehend, we would have very little need for Special Education for children without physical or mental handicaps. We need to go Back to Basics and teach to mastery. There are too few carryover skills from grade to grade. Call it what you want, but teach it to mastery!!

  • In our school district, there are differing opinions as to value of the CCSS but there is unanimity in opinion regarding the importance of perusing the best approaches to educate our students. I’m impressed by the teachers around me.

    I’m a speech & language therapist and I provide support to kids from kindergarten to a few post-secondary students and when I read through the standards I was amazed at the strong language component at the root them. On my blog, SpeakWell, ReadWell, I posted about the standards from a Speech/Language perspective:

  • I am confused here. I have taught elementary school for 16 years and always hold my students to a high standard. I don’t see the CCSS as replacing anything valuable but as raising the expecations on our students and teachers to achieve a higher standard. This is a good thing. I believe too many teachers don’t push themselves or their students to the highest level. This is unfortunate. I believe the CCSS will help us push the envelope. I believe this will also raise the level of respect and admiration for teachers, which is always needed because we will be modelling how to work hard to learn something new.

  • The problems I see with reading/literacy in my secondary English classes existed before CCSS–students being asked to analyze literature from authors such as Poe and Lee before they can understand the vocabulary, figurative language, and historical events that important to comprehending the works. Students are required to write essays before they have mastered phonetics, grammar, and capitalization.

    The other problem I see is with our very culture, especially with boys. Reading literature is “stupid” and English is not a “real” subject. Boys play sports and video games.

  • I do not agree at all that we can claim that somebody wants Common Core just because it is selling. I have always purchased curriculum to support the standards that need to be taught. Now, unfortunately, that means materials that support Common core. That does not mean that I like Common Core. Actually, I do not like them at all! It is my job to teach them and though I don’t care for them, I want to do my job well. So if that means buying curriculum that supports Common Core, so be it. Please don’t misinterpret sales of Common Core materials to mean it is liked or desired.

  • I am a novice pre-k teacher who has had some experience with common core. Nevertheless, I do understand that many teachers have a love/hate relationship with it. Okay, mostly hate. The biggest problem that I see with it is that, although it raises the bar when it comes to academics, and helps prepare students for the next grade, it’s just so wide and high and dense that there’s no time in the classroom for reflection and experimentation. If a pre-k student could talk about the common care he or she might say: “I’m proud of the vocabulary and critical thinking I am learning. “But please let me play a little and eventually, I will discover and learn on my own!”

  • I hoped the establishment of common standards would help level the playing field for the children of our very diverse country. We in Massachusetts have long worked to meet the highest levels of performance, but the “push down” of skills in ELA and Math have created turmoil and uncertainty in our schools and communities. Our youngest learners are being asked to perform far above their developmental levels. I truly believe that common standards are the answer for meeting the needs of our highly transient populations, but our current standards outlined by the CCSS may not be the answer.

  • I actually agree on the sales piece, though I’d like to hear from more teachers about this. I hear a lot about “panic” on the part of teachers and administrators about the CCSS and the upcoming assessments, and I do think that is driving sales. It’s never good to be operating primarily from a place of fear. From my perspective as Publisher, my goal is and always has been to help teachers become even more effective by giving them additional tools. I am for whatever will help teachers help kids learn. In general, I see the standards pushing educators toward more inquiry in the classroom–at least in the books I am publishing. This has been one positive result. Whether the adoption of these standards is positive or negative will be determined by what we do with them, including assessments.

  • Support for the common core comes from teachers and administrators who FEAR repercussions if they don’t conform to the particulars of the common core. However, I really believe that what has turned the common core into a steamroll comes from all those who benefit from its implementation—publishers, test makers, computer hardware/software companies, and politicians. Note I do NOT say students. Unfortunately, the current rush to put the common core in place puts the students LAST in consideration.

  • I agree books sales aren’t a good indicator of support and more to do educators preparing.

  • I don’t think book sales have anything to do with support of Common Core. Instead, I would hypothesize that it more likely shows that educators and adminsitrators want to be prepared for what they are forced to follow.

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