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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meet the New Common Core

MADISON, Wis. — HATE the Common Core? You’re not alone. The national reading and math standards, set up by a bipartisan consortium of state governors, have turned into a political lightning rod for a coalition of angry parents and education activists. The math component has generated special peevishness. The comedian Louis C.K. was widely cheered in April when he tweeted: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and Common Core!”

Governors around the country, including many former Common Core supporters, are considering strangling the Common Core in its crib. Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina have already adopted new bespoke state standards. Democracy in action!

There’s just one problem. What’s replacing the Common Core is, by and large, the same thing in a new package.

Standardized tests certainly aren’t going anywhere. States that have dumped exams aligned with the Common Core aren’t dumping high-stakes testing; they’re just switching to new tests, like the ACT’s Aspire. (Other ACT offerings include the Explore, the Engage and the Compass. Apparently standardized tests are titled by the same people who name midsize sedans.)

Frequent testing is locked in by federal funding requirements and, in many states, by accountability statutes long predating the Common Core. Just recently, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced that his administration was moving to abandon the Common Core curriculum but sticking with the corresponding state exam, all but conceding that the new standards would be essentially identical with the old.


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