As intended, Common Core’s standards shape tests determining “college and career readiness.” But, unfortunately, they affect the preparation of teachers and administrators as well. How they do so is not well understood by most parents.
The standards adopted by the Council for Accreditation of Education Professionals (CAEP) require all preparation programs for teachers and school administrators seeking re-accreditation to address “rigorous college- and career-ready standards” and explicitly mention Common Core’s standards as an example. But they don’t require preparation programs to address all the traditional discipline-based content that parents may well assume these standards address.
In CAEP 2013 Standards for Accreditation of Educator Preparation, approved by CAEP’s Board of Directors on August 29, 2013, we find under “Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge” the following standard as a “provider” responsibility:
1.4 Providers ensure that completers demonstrate skills and commitment that afford all P‐12 students access to rigorous college‐ and career‐ready standards (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards, National Career Readiness Certificate, Common Core State Standards).
Exactly how teachers can give students “access” to rigorous standards is not explained in the glossary for this Standard. In addition, there are two basic problems with the wording in substandard 1.4.
First, the word “rigorous” begs the question that is arousing parents across the country: Are “college- and career-ready standards” (which everyone today knows as a synonym for Common Core’s standards) rigorous? It has becoming increasingly clear to watchful parents that Common Core-based lessons are not academically rigorous.
Why did CAEP decide that Common Core’s standards were rigorous? What experts on high school mathematics, science, and literary content helped the education school deans on CAEP’s Board of Directors to arrive at that decision? Even Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have acknowledged that they do not prepare students for STEM majors or careers. By intention, Common Core’s level of college readiness in mathematics is low.
Moreover, in requiring prospective teachers (“completers”) to demonstrate their “commitment” to give all students “access” to “rigorous” standards, the examples given do not lead knowledgeable observers to place much confidence in the outcomes. The examples include Next Generation Science Standards which were released in 2013 and have been heavily criticized by scientists for having few high school chemistry standards and unteachable physics standards because the mathematics to support high school physics coursework is not clearly specified nor integrated with the physics standards.
Why should an accreditation agency promote particular sets of standards (even if as examples) rather than expect prospective teachers and administrators to learn how to teach discipline-based content? Accrediting personnel will rely on those examples of standards, especially if they have been told they are rigorous, leaving prospective teachers and administrators underqualified for work in private schools or homeschooling cooperatives that may still want educators who can establish and teach to authentically rigorous standards.
CAEP may well be handicapping the preparation programs it has accredited. While private schools as well as some charter schools are exempt from hiring state-licensed teachers and administrators, a new accreditation agency is needed that does not impose the use of weak or academically-limited K-12 standards on all educator training programs.