New York has become the poster child for poor implementation of the Common Core State Standards. A Race-to-the-Top state, New York officials bragged several years ago about how they were ready for the new standards.
The state could not wait for PARCC to develop an assessment system. So, New York developed it’s own “Common Core-Aligned” set of state tests and tied the results to teacher evaluations and to graduation requirements. Common sense dictates that new, higher standards, new, more rigorous assessments coupled with a short window for implementation would result in lower scores on the tests. But as Will Rogers once said, “Common sense ain’t so common.”
The train wreck occurred when officials, knowing that scores would drop, tied those scores (fifty percent) to teacher evaluations and graduation requirements. This initially outraged teachers who saw the handwriting on the wall. After all, if you have been in education for more than a few years, you are all too familiar with botched implementations. Next came parent outrage because their students were failing the required state tests in huge numbers and they would not graduate.
If one wished to devise a plan to sabotage the Common Core State Standards, this plan was virtually foolproof.
As early as three years ago, New York principals, with tears in their eyes pleaded that tying the expected falling test scores to teacher evaluations was eroding the trust they had worked so hard to build and was destroying the culture of their schools. Their pleas went unnoticed–Ready, Fire, Aim.
Implementation of the Common Core State Standards is a necessary, but ‘monumental undertaking.’ Changing the way teachers teach and how students are assessed, moving the target from high school completion to college and career-readiness, integrating literacy into all content areas, changing teacher evaluation systems, changing state accountability systems are individually multi-year undertakings. Together these and other local and state initiatives–all occurring simultaneously–represent the “perfect storm” for public education–a storm with no end in sight.