The window to comment on the Common Core Initiative draft has recently closed, but discussions over the proposal are far from over. While a designated committee has just begun to mull over input provided by leading education stakeholders, the rest of the education community is wrestling with how it will orchestrate all the necessary support systems for such an initiative to be successfully adopted, implemented and utilized to improve student outcomes.
Most recently, at a Fordham Institute forum — National Education Standards circa 2009: Where do we go from here? — on Wednesday, experts’ talks about standards and implementation underscored the vast scope of reform efforts that the common core undertaking will demand from the entire education community – educators, policymakers, administrators, postsecondary institutions, industry and more.
“None of this is serious unless we have radical rethinking,” said Sandy Kress, former senior education advisor to President George W. Bush.
Other panelists – Sheila Byrd Carmichael, an education policy consultant; Dane Linn, director of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices director; and W. Stephen Wilson, Johns Hopkins University professor of mathematics – echoed Kress’s notions of some form adjustment in the nation’s education beyond adopting standards.
For example, the adoption of new, rigorous math standards would impose a ripple effect on the education community from elementary to postsecondary, the experts noted. New standards in K-12 classrooms would then lead to new standards for teacher training programs at the postsecondary level. That would require teacher preparation departments to collaborate intensely with mathematics departments — a partnership that has been difficult for schools and institutions across the nation to build.
In the policy arena, the impact of raised standards on student achievement, particularly in the beginning when students are least likely to perform well, would also shake the political community, they noted. How will the education community convince politicians to support the Common Core Initiative through policy and funding, despite the inevitable backlash that will occur when students do not meet these new, high standards?
Clearly, setting new expectations is just the beginning of this process.