Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, has been a darling of many in the Kentucky education community of late, getting favorable comments from a number of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) supporters like the Prichard Committee’s Stu Silberman and Bob King, the President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday has written favorably about reporting from the National Center on Education and the Economy, as well.
So, Tucker’s back and forth comments about CCSS earlier this month in one of Education Week’s blogs are particularly interesting.
Tucker blogs on his conversation with Jim Pellegrino, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago regarding the CCSS and those new standards’ real relationship to curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Here are some snips:
Tucker: “This idea that the standards can be fixed but teachers can have wide latitude in the way they construct the curriculum and the way they choose to do instruction is, I take it, a bit misleading.”
Pellegrino: “I’m afraid so.”
Tucker: “We established that one does not really understand what the standards mean unless you have a conception of the curriculum that can implement them. Then we established that the instructional methods used need to be tied to the curriculum. So talk, if you will, about how standards, curriculum and instruction are connected to assessment.”
Pellegrino: “To properly implement a good set of standards, you have to have a conception of the curriculum, the ways instruction is going to unfold, how kids will engage with materials and activities, and how the assessments are based on the curriculum. That is because the assessments used, the tasks that kids are asked to perform in an examination, in a good system, become the operational definition of what kids need to know and be able to do.”
Tucker ends with this important, largely unanswered question: “Will we get the results people are hoping for if we don’t tie standards closely to curriculum, instruction and assessment?”
To be sure, I have found myself disagreeing with Tucker on a number of issues over the years. I am also not sure exactly where he wanted to go with his blog. However, I think he understands that education standards are crucially interwoven with other parts of the education process like curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Those in Kentucky who somehow try to divorce the CCSS from the development of curriculum, classroom instruction and the assessments really don’t understand how high performance educational systems work. Those are misunderstandings that even Tucker and Pellegrino don’t seem to share.
The truth is that CCSS were meant to drive curriculum, instruction and assessment. As such, they need to be really superior to get the job done for our kids.
And, even Tucker is now expressing concerns about how well CCSS will play out in that role.