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Calling All Teachers: Input Needed on Common Standards

The public-comment period on the grade-by-grade common standards opens tomorrow, and the drafters are very interested in what teachers will have to say about them. Some teachers have been involved in creating the standards, but the folks at the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association tell me that they want many more to weigh in.

Chris Minnich of the CCSSO and Dane Linn of the NGA say they want to know whether teachers find the standards "teachable" and whether the grade-by-grade progressions of skills outlined in there make sense. They also want to hear teachers' ideas on curriculum materials and assessments that could be developed to reflect the standards.

Teachers—and anyone else wishing to comment on the common-standards draft—can see them at www.corestandards.org. The online comment form has no length limit, I'm told. Once the public-comment period closes on April 2, a summary of all the public comments will be posted, just as it was after the "college and career readiness standards" drew more than 1,000 comments last fall.

Why not just post every comment for all the world to see? Or at least summarize each unique comment? I don't know, and I wonder. I mean, the feds do it on regulatory stuff. Check this out as an example. It's the final regulations on the Education Department's "i3" competition (my colleague Michele McNeil explains that competition here). Don't be freaked out by the length of this thing; just check out the way they tell you what commenters said, and what their reasoning was in deciding to make changes (or not). Another example of this is here, in the regulations that changed the requirements for how states must calculate their high school graduation rates.

The common standards have certainly created some heated debate. I'm betting maximum transparency would find great appreciation, at least in some quarters.

NGA spokeswoman Jodi Omear tells me that the two groups chose the summary route to "encourage truthful and detailed answers" and to protect the commenters' confidentiality. Also, she says, many of the responses they get are essentially commentaries on education in general, or expressions of support for taking up the common-standards issue, so summarizing, in their view, is a better way to analyze the comments that are actually related to the development of the standards.

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