A recent commentary in The Advocate says controversy over Common Core has subsided. Maybe, maybe not. Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” What might the rest of the story be?
Common Core tests (like Louisiana’s) measure curriculum, according to Jon Twing, the executive director of testing for Pearson. But Louisiana’s education superintendent, in a letter to then-gubernatorial candidate David Vitter, wrote that Louisiana’s tests are aligned to standards, not curriculum. Lynne Munson, the co-founder of Common Core Inc., says curriculum and standards are not the same thing and have never been the same thing. She says standards are where you want to go and curriculum is how you get there.
These facts have been lost in the Common Core discussion but they should not be. Absent a state-endorsed curriculum, schools and school systems hunt for curricula they hope aligns with the test, but independent analysis indicates up to two-thirds of “aligned curriculum” really aren’t. This explains why a local system superintendent reported that he thought his students did well but he would not know until they got results back to see if they had actually prepared for what was tested.
It gets worse: Common Core testing for Louisiana was touted as necessary because state law requires a meaningful national comparison. The referenced Advocate op-ed states that 10 other states and D.C. are in the consortium for testing. By my math, that is 11. But The New York Times reported on Nov. 21, 2015, that there are actually only six states still in the consortium along with D.C. Further, the NYT notes Massachusetts, the originator of Common Core, pulled out because comparisons of tests scores were no longer considered meaningful. New York, another originator of Common Core, also pulled out this year with the governor noting the tests had only caused anxiety and confusion. Vermont, another Common Core initiator, walked away from their test results as reported in The Washington Post article: “Letter to Common Core parents: Don’t worry, the results don’t mean much.”
We are giving a test that measures curriculum without a state-endorsed, universally provided curriculum. The test results are supposed to be meaningful for national comparisons, but we are down to six states and D.C. Three of the strongest states championing Common Core either have left the consortium or distanced themselves totally from the test results. Facts like these should cause controversy.
This is some of “the rest of the story.” Space does not allow for the full myriad issues associated with the whole mess that is Common Core, but they also are troublesome.