An education advocacy group with over 10 million members wants to highlight success stories in implementing the Common Core State Standards, yet simultaneously delay high-stakes associated with common-core aligned tests to ensure that the standards ultimately succeed.
The call to highlight common-core success stories yet delay what common core's results mean in schools comes from the Learning First Alliance, a group based in Alexandria, Va. that consists of teachers, principals, and school board members, as well as organizations including the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, and the National PTA. Members also include the two national teachers' unions: the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. (The NSBA and the National PTA are supporters of the standards.)
"Right now, too many states, districts, and schools simply are not prepared to make high-stakes decisions such as student advancement or graduation, teacher evaluation, school performance designation or state funding awards based on assessments of the standards before they have been fully and properly implemented," Learning First Alliance Executive Director Cheryl Scott Williams said in an April 8 statement released by the group.
First, let's deal with the delay of high stakes linked to common-core assessments. National union officials have been calling for a common-core slowdown for a little while now, but the network of K-12 groups now supporting this stance is worth noting. According to the Williams, Learning First's executive director, judging students, teachers, and others based on the assessments before the standards have been fully implemented and other resources have been fully aligned to the common core would only lead to mistakes and misjudgments.
"Despite good intentions, educators and other voices represented by LFA have been largely left out of decisions around the implementation process, and decision makers have largely avoided issues of curriculum and instruction to date," Williams said in the statement.
The group hasn't identified the year it thinks should be the new, later starting point for high-stakes decisions tied to the standards—NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, by contrast, thinks that at the earliest, the 2015-16 school year is when such high stakes should be introduced, as my colleague Stephen Sawchuk noted.
However, Learning First also says that highlighting instances where implementation has gone well is the second key part of its announcement. It also announced a new website where it will share good examples of how common core is being used in states, and noted that states that serve as models include California, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Massachusetts.
Through this new site, the group also wants to guide states in creating good common-core policy, including timetables for implementation, in order to "allow the time necessary to do this right," Williams said.
You can read the full statement from Learning First below: