Pathways to a Common Consensus?

The Common Core State Standards are such an interesting sequel to No Child Left Behind. I’m really glad that the pendulum appears to be swinging away from high-stakes testing (with all its attending basal readers and other kinds of sterilized texts), and toward an emphasis on critical thinking and (yay!) writing, but it also makes me wonder. How many years or decades away are we from another extreme pendulum swing? NCLB was rolled out in 2004 with not much of a trial run, and Diane Ravitch expresses similar fears about the Common Core Standards. So when states roll out these standards too fast, without training or teacher buy-in, will we chuck them in a few years, chalking it up as another educational reform failure? I’ve spent relatively few years as an educator but I’ve learned a couple things about educational reform so far: it is confusing, inconsistent, and extreme.

For a well-written, engaging, and (thankfully) brief discussion about the CCSS, check out Pathways to the Common Core, by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman. It’s a rosy and perhaps not entirely disinterested picture, but it’s well written enough that it’s one of the few education books that actually kept me up past my bed time.

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