Common Core Standards: Now What?

Today, Fordham released a new paper by Checker and me: Now What? Imperatives and Options for Common Core Implementation and Governance. Everyone knows that the Common Core standards won’t implement themselves, but unless they are adopted in the classroom, nothing much will change. So we explore: What implementation tasks are most urgent? What should be done across state lines? (Developing curriculum? Training teachers? Approving textbooks?) What should be left to individual states, districts, and private markets? Perhaps most perplexing, who will govern and “own” these standards and tests ten or twenty years from now?

After collecting feedback on some tough questions from two-dozen education leaders (e.g. Jeb Bush, David Driscoll, Rod Paige, Judith Rizzo, Andy Rotherham, Eric Smith, etc.), we frame three possible models for governing this implementation process:

1. “Let’s Become More Like France.” We picture a powerful Common Core governing board—probably via a new compact among participating states—to oversee the standards, assessments, and many aspects of implementation, validation, and more.

2. “Don’t Rock the Boat.” We keep the Common Core footprint as small as possible. An existing group is charged with updating the standards five or ten years hence, but otherwise everything is left to states, districts, and the market.

3. “One Foot before the Other.” This middle ground foresees an interim coordinating body that promotes information sharing and capacity building among participating states, which remain in charge of implementation. By the time the Common Core needs revising, this interim body may evolve into something more permanent or may itself make recommendations for long-term governance.

In the end, we call for a version of Model #3—a Common Core Coordinating Council (“4C,” or even “Foresee”)—that plays a temporary information-sharing and facilitation role but might morph into something more ambitious (and more permanent) over time. It’s hardly a “national school board,” but yes, it would look a little bit like the old National Education Goals Panel.

Ours is hardly the last word on this subject; the aim is to get the conversation started. So…let the conversation begin!

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