Sandra Stotsky: How to Make Common Core Useful?

Sandra Stotsky testifying before the West Virginia Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Education
Sandra Stotsky testifying before the West Virginia Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Education

Dr. Sandra Stotksy offered the following idea, not as an apologetic for the actual Common Core State Standards themselves, but the idea of common standards.  She says such an idea makes sense more for K-8 than high school.  Mary Byrne will address concerns she has with this approach in another post.

How to Make Common Core Useful?

By Sandra Stotsky

What could be done to make the idea of a common core across 50 states make sense in this country?

I finally have come up with what could be the solution that Governor Huckabee simply missed.  We need to relabel them high school-ready standards and give the so-called “college readiness” tests based on them in grade 8, which is where they belong with respect to content and cut scores. The contents and pass scores for the current Common Core-based tests are a better indication of whether students can do authentic high school-level work in grade 9 than of college-level work.

A common core can make sense at the right grade levels. We need to compress most of the standards in both English language arts and mathematics from K-12 so that they can serve to make most students ready for high school by the end of grade 8. That is what we really need a common core of standards for, not for preparing all students for college when large numbers of young adolescents don’t want to go to college or can’t do college coursework and would prefer other options.  Then, educators could work out alternative high school curricula and give young adolescents a choice of the kind of high school curriculum they are willing to commit themselves to. Our aim would be to try to make sure that all students complete a basic education through grade 8.  We could then provide them with upper secondary options that make sense to them (as do most countries, including Finland).