That’s the limp and tiresome refrain of Common Core supporters to those who think the new standards are taking away teacher creativity as well as the ability of local schools to control what’s taught in the classroom.
Now there is an even stronger reason to doubt Common Core backers. In recent weeks Politico and Education Week (subscription required) reported about a new web site, EdReporrts.org. The site, funded by a $3 million dollar grant from the Helms Charitable Trust and — you guessed it — the Gates Foundation, will serve as a Consumer Reports for education materials; evaluating materials based on how well they are aligned to Common Core standards. The rating system will help teachers “know” which curricula to pick because they will have the highest ratings. The rating system will also steer educators away from materials that — even though they may be good — are not aligned to Common Core Standards.
Two questions: So which school districts will have the courage to pick a curriculum that is not highly rated? How is this not an attempt to create a national curriculum?
These developments validate what we have been saying all along: why would any teacher or school district choose materials that don’t teach to the standards? The assertion that teachers and local districts will be able to chose curricula has always been worthless. The fact is, standards drive curriculum. Even if a teacher chooses a different curriculum, teachers know what concepts are tested. Since teachers will be evaluated on student performance — which is how well the standards are taught — now we find there are penalties in place for those who dare venture off the Common Core script.
But don’t worry teachers and school districts will still be able to choose their own curriculum.