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Implementing the Common Standards: Experts Weigh In

Now that most states have adopted the common standards, many minds are turning to the question of how to implement them. Case in point: a report out today from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

You might recall that the Fordham folks, here in Washington, have weighed in by grading the common standards, offering state-by-state comparisons, and mulling pesky governance questions about them. In today's report, they bring to bear the thoughts of a stable of experts on how to turn these standards into real classroom teaching (they also hit again on those governance questions).

Interesting discussions. But one thing that got my attention about the report today wasn't between its covers.

It was the reaction of the common standards folks themselves. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, which shepherded the unwieldy initiative through months of review and negotiation, took the unusual step of issuing a statement in response to the Fordham report.

The jaded and well-traveled among you will note, rightly, that issuing statements is a yawner. Everyone and their mother issues statements at the drop of a dime in Washington. But the CCSSO and the NGA have been pretty restrained on this score, remaining steadfastly silent as a snowdrift of reports, studies, analyses, and opinions has accumulated on the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). Today, however, they had this to say about the Fordham report:

"While there are many good recommendations within the report, there are some key differences in what a final governance structure will look like," said NGA Executive Director Raymond C. Scheppach. "One of the key differences for us is the involvement of the federal government in the governing structure. CCSSI is a state-led effort and needs to remain so."

The NGA Center and CCSSO also believe a more narrowed scope of work is needed for the new governance entity, which would include monitoring state adoption and providing oversight of future activities.

"Planning for the future success of the CCSSI is a top priority for the NGA Center and CCSSO," said CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit. "We currently are developing a governance structure to ensure the standards will remain strong, supported by states and lead to desired student and system outcomes. This is a thoughtful analysis of governance options and we thank the Fordham Institute for their valuable contribution to this work."

Don't let anyone tell you that sensitivity about that federal "don't tread on me" issue is dead and gone. Especially with changes of the guard hovering in governors' and education chiefs' offices in dozens of states.

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