Did the people who created Common Core State Standards really know what is needed?

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New ACT report casts SERIOUS doubts

The ACT, Inc.’s “ACT National Curriculum Survey” series just came out with a 2012 edition.

The findings raise serious questions about the validity of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that Kentucky and many other states are now using to shape school curriculum from Kindergarten through high school.

Recent ACT Curriculum Surveys have shown a major disconnect between the opinions of high school teachers and college instructors. In general, K to 12 educators have a much more inflated view of the preparation of their students for college than is actually the case. Sadly, the results in the 2012 report proved no exception.

This very key ACT, Inc. finding certainly raises major questions about the validity of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

A large gap still exists between how high school teachers perceive the college readiness of high school graduates and how college instructors perceive the readiness of their incoming first-year students. This suggests a continuing lack of curricular alignment between the K–12 and postsecondary education systems that may be hampering the efforts of K–12 to prepare students for life after high school.

The report’s accompanying graph (below) makes the difference in those opinions much clearer and shows little change has occurred between 2009, one year before the CCSS were issued, and 2012, more than two years after the CCSS came out.

ACT 2012 - Teachers Vs Professors on College Readiness

Here is the problem for CCSS validity. If high school teachers had a lot of input to the standards, this new ACT survey shows those teachers’ views of what is needed are very seriously out of line with what is actually expected in our colleges.

Thus, how could the CCSS process possibly have created an appropriate set of standards when one of the major participating groups continues to be so poorly informed about what those standards really need to include?

In fact, given the huge differences in opinions on college preparation shown in the graph above, I question how it could be possible for these two groups to reach a consensus on what was necessary for CCSS.

So, the ACT report raises more questions about the behind-closed-door process that was used to develop the CCSS:

• Who really designed them?

• Were all voices recognized in the process?

• Did the CCSS design team really know what was needed?

All of a sudden, it becomes a lot clearer why five members of the Common Core State Standards Validation Committee refused to sign their final report (Compare the list of members on the page before Page 1 to the list of those who signed on Page 4 in the CCSS Validation Committee’s final report). Four of those individuals, Alfino Flores, R. James Milgram, Sandra Stotsky, and Samuel DeWitt are college professors. The fifth person who refused to sign was Dylan William, from the Educational Testing Service, which creates the SAT college entrance test. They represent a significant proportion of the college members of the CCSS Validity Committee.

Were their voices even heard? Apparently, these college voices were not heeded.

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