Give Educators Time and Support to Implement the Common Core

Matt Chapman - NWEA

AFT calls for moratorium on Common Core consequences.

In her April 30 speech, Randi Weingarten demonstrated clear and unimpeachable logic by asking for adequate time and resources to prepare for and implement the Common Core State Standards before punishing teachers and students for non-performance on those standards.  The standards themselves provide a solid foundation of what our students should learn, so it follows that in those states where they have been adopted and fully implemented.

The wrinkle in this is that there are few places where the standards have been fully implemented.  Full implementation does, and should, include unpacking the standards and converting them into a local curriculum, training teachers in how to teach the new curriculum effectively, and giving at least a full year to find the bugs and make adjustments as needed. It simply is not reasonable to expect workers in any industry to make a major change instantly, without time to retool and retrain.

We sometimes have a tendency in education to do a half-baked implementation, then declare the basic recipe a failure and abandon it before we know whether it would have worked if fully cooked. We seem to be headed in that direction with the Common Core.  If these standards are driven to failure, the remaining choice will be to return to what we already know won’t work, or to rush toward the next big thing that also hasn’t been adequately prepared for in the classroom.  We already have far too great a fixation on high stakes accountability testing, and bringing this hammer down on our teachers and students without even a reasonable shot at success is at best unacceptable.

We seem to admire what Finland has become, but are not willing to acknowledge the long path they followed to achieve their goals.  They adopted a plan, put a tremendous effort into training their educators how to make it work, and now spend years training each new teacher to be effective in their model. If Finland really is in the promised land of education, we need be willing to follow their lead if we want to join them.