Monday, April 28, 2014

Losing the capacity to compare . . .

As we read about the growing number of states considering their commitment to the Common Core State Standards we need to remember that the push back started with states reconsidering their alignment with one of the two national testing consortia supported by $360 million in federal money. Recently, in a contested action the State Superintendent of Education in South Carolina joined others from one of the two Common Core testing consortia in the recent decision to drop the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  That leaves 22 still with Smarter Balanced, 16 with PARCC, and 1 with both groups. What will the other 13 be doing for state assessments since all states, as a condition of the waiver process, are required to assess using these or state developed college and career ready standards? They will work with other testing organizations or develop their own.

This leaves us with an interesting situation since having all states using the same set of standards and administering similar assessments was a major selling point for Common Core implementation.  With the recent pull out by South Carolina and others from PARCC such as Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Alabama the capacity to rate states on a one time test is diminishing.  How many more states will withdraw before mandatory implementation in 2015 is anyone's guess.  Though the Smarter Balanced pilot seems to be going well in our state there have been problems in others that may influence the outcome.

Like many systems across the country, we have expended considerable resources on common core to align curriculum, assessment, and instructional practice and still have far to go.  I do not believe that moving away from these standards and assessments in the short term is best for our students and teachers as we have experienced far too many standard changes over the years.  We need stability and opportunity to refine our practice not more shifting of priorities in the political winds.  Below, is a map from Education Week with the current state testing alignment.
Common Standards and Assessment Consortia Membership

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