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New School Year: New Standards, New Fears

More than two years after the Common Core State Standards were introduced, we're finally beginning to see more widespread coverage in the mainstream news media.

Stories like this one, from Paragould, Ark., and this one, from the Ravena News-Herald in upstate New York, try to bring to the general public a sense of the new academic expectations facing their children. They're pretty typical of what I've been seeing lately.

The difference is that I'm seeing much of anything at all. For the last couple of years, there has been relatively little published in newspapers that cater to a broader population than the education world. Now that the standards are actually being implemented in schools, it's predictable that local newspapers will hear about—and write about—what they will actually look like in the classroom.

They're also writing, of course, about some of the challenges that lie ahead in implementing the standards. This story, from the Arizona Daily Sun, was sparked by a gubernatorial press conference praising the standards, but focused instead on the funding shortages schools are dealing with in putting the standards into practice.

Another theme we're hearing a lot is the anticipated drop in test scores as assessments begin to reflect standards that are more rigorous than previous sets. Our own Andrew Ujifusa told you a bit about this in a story earlier this summer.

Stu Silberman, who oversees the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, which has worked for years on education reform in Kentucky, writes in a recent blog post for EdWeek that the state is steeling itself for that test-score drop. Indeed, during a recent committee meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday joked about whether or not he will still have a job when the state's new test scores come out. Kentucky has undertaken a major public-outreach effort to explain the anticipated drops and build public support to stay the course.

As media coverage of the standards gains a wider foothold, it will be interesting to see how much focuses on the content of the standards themselves, and how they're being taught, and how much zeroes in on monetary challenges or political ones, such as the vein of opposition to federal involvement in their adoption by states. Stay tuned.

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