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Next Draft of Common Standards Due in Early September

Two of the top officials who are guiding the multi-state effort to draft common academic standards offered an update on the project Friday. And there was some news to report on that process, known as the Common Core, an effort led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Because of the sheer volume of responses to a first draft of the standards—leaked on the Web a few weeks ago—the date for when a second, reworked version will be posted online has been moved from a target of mid-August to sometime in early September.

"We were inundated," explained CCSSO's Scott Montgomery. "The complexity and the [detail] of the review was such that we couldn't do it justice with just a two-week period."

Montgomery and Dane Linn of the governors association gave members of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, an update on the schedule for the standards, and an overview of the project. Members of the board, attending their quarterly meeting in Washington, asked questions about the standards-writing so far, with some of them praising the document they'd seen.

Board member Henry Kranendonk, a math curriculum specialist with the Milwaukee public schools, said he was "pleasantly surprised" with the organization of the document and the math content covered. Like other board members, he had questions. In the end, how different or similar would any participating state's standards have to be to the Common Core? Agreements arranged with the states spell out that they should eventually adopt standards that are 85 percent based on the Common Core academic content, Linn and Montgomery explained at one point. While the two men suggested that making a determination about the composition of states┬┤standards could require some analysis, the idea is to promote enough consistency that "state A and state B" would not look "vastly different," Montgomery said.

Not surprisingly, in a room stuffed with test gurus, board members also asked about the prospects of states actually adopting common exams to match the standards. CCSSO and NGA have said previously that developing common assessments will be important if the standards are going to have a positive influence in classrooms. They've also pledged to work with states to develop those exams. (See a Q and A provided by the two groups for more detail.) Linn said he couldn't predict how many states would come up with common tests, or how soon it would happen. But he said state officials had made clear their frustration with their high testing costs from the very beginning of the project.

"I don't know how many states are going to sign up for the common assessments," Linn told the board, "but I think there's an incentive."

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