Unfinished Business

Edley: Implementation Key to Common Core’s Success

By Quaila Hugh, a Summer 2014 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern

Common Core State Standards are supported by a number of civil rights groups and educators alike. The standards, developed to ensure students graduate college- or career-ready, are indispensable to the effort of bringing about excellence through equity for each and every child.

Christopher Edley Jr., a professor at the University of California-Berkeley Law School and co-chair of the National Commission on Education Equity and Excellence, although a proponent of the standards, cautions us to proceed with care. Implementation, Edley warns, is critical to the success of Common Core’s goal.

However, the Common Core, even where it survives politically, will fail if the implementation fails. Implementation must be judged a failure if it reinforces rather than narrows our system’s great divides. In particular, if education leaders and advocates are impatient, incautious and cheap, then we will know that they have subordinated excellence-for-all to some other agenda—in effect, if not also by intent.

Edley reiterates the concerns so many have raised, saying:

Teachers won’t get the necessary professional development and other support to deliver CCSS well. High stakes for kids and teachers will start too soon, be too severe, and violate tenets of psychometrics.  Poor scores will demotivate and stigmatize, even if lack of resources and support are the chief villains. Teachers and public education as a whole will be trashed by so-called privatizers.

Finally, most important and certainly familiar, the worst of all this will play out for the districts, schools, and kids who are most aggrieved by the current state of affairs.

Edley warns that if Common Core advocates continue to dismiss or deflect implementation concerns, the standards will meet the same fate of Clinton’s Voluntary National Test death.

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