New Report Discusses Concerns Re: CCSS, Curriculum and Testing

A new report, released this morning, points to what it calls “technical and political issues that are not easily addressed” in implementing Common Core State Standards. The report outlines issues for Common Core assessments in alignment with content and in validation, particularly in use of the Common Core assessments to evaluate teachers and schools.

Catherine Gewertz, at Education Week, highlights the paper’s argument that the Common Core State Standards are being used to evaluate teachers even though they “have not been specifically designed for that purpose.” She adds, however:

It’s probably a good time to point out, also, that the U.S. Department of Education—which has funneled $360 million into the development of the tests—had exactly these kinds of uses in mind in 2010 when it invited groups of states to apply for the funding.
“More Research Needed on Proper Use of Common-Core Tests, Report Says,” by C. Gewertz

Gewertz summarizes the report as a “new study” that “cautions that more research is needed before new common-core assessments can be used as valid and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness.”

Although Gewertz calls it a “new study,” the paper does not reflect new assessment research or a thorough review of existing academic work. It does, however, reference recent examinations of how well curriculum and testing labeled “Common Core” are aligned with the standards themselves.

The report concludes:

Perhaps the most important recommendation is to act thoughtfully and not punitively in the immediate future, giving educators the time to implement the standards. In contrast, if poorly designed accountability is pushed in the next several years, there is no question that it will undermine the CCSS and lead to an expansion of the kind of resistance that is already nascent.
— p.30, CAP’s Common Core State Standards Assessments: Challenges and Opportunities

This is strong criticism coming from the Center for American Progress, who published this report. The nonpartisan think tank describes its mission as seeking “progressive and pragmatic solutions to domestic and international problems.” It has been a steadfast cheerleader for Obama administration policy, including support for the Common Core and the Race to the Top.

The report was written by Morgan S. Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. He has previously published concerns about alignment of text books labeled “Common Core” with the actual standards.

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