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Quick Timeline Planned for Panel to Vet Common-Core Materials

The Business Roundtable is planning to be speedy about its plans to convene a panel of experts to judge alignment of common-core instructional materials. It wants to have the group together in less than a year.

I reported earlier this week that the group of corporate executives wants to assemble a jury of sorts to help educators sift through publishers' claims of alignment to the common standards. Curious for more detail, I called up Dane Linn, the BRT vice president who is leading this project for the group's president (and former Michigan governor) John Engler.

Linn said that he's already been talking with people from the Gates and Hewlett foundations, Achieve (which is already running such a panel), the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and America Achieves, all big supporters of the common standards. The next step, he said, is to convene these and additional folks to draft a business plan for the panel. He's shooting to have that done within six months. 

Who would serve on the panel? Formal criteria haven't yet been set, but Linn said logical top choices would include those who served on the writing panels for the standards. The first four names to surface in any such conversation, of course, are David Coleman and Susan Pimentel for English/language arts, and Jason Zimba and Willam McCallum for math. Linn told me he hadn't yet run it by them. (I did; I haven't yet had those emails answered, though.)

Panelists wouldn't be restricted to those who served on the standards writing teams. Others could be "experts in the content areas," Linn said. But one thing is clear, he said: No one who represents vendors of instructional materials will be allowed to serve on the panel, since much of what will likely come in for review will be produced by private vendors. (Materials from nonprofits and other groups could be analyzed, too).

Linn acknowledged that selecting panelists is politically sensitive.

"No doubt that setting up such a process and entity is tricky," he said. "We understand this is political, but at the same time, if states are going to be successful implementing [the common core] in classrooms, we need to give states and teachers greater asurance that what they're using is aligned to the standards."

The panel will undoubtedly make use of the alignment rubrics designed by Achieve's EQuIP project and being used currently by that project's interstate panel of jurors, Linn said. The BRT panel will also be informed by discussions about common-core alignment that have been unfolding at the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Annenberg Foundation, he said.

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