A report issued Wednesday by members of the Assembly Committee on Common Core Standards concluded the state should not continue with plans to implement the program for the 2013-2014 school year and years after.
Common Core Standards is an initiative to establish stronger English and mathematics requirements in schools the Legislature agreed to adopt on June 2, 2010.
The Assembly committee held four public hearings on the issue in October. Those represented at the hearings included state Superintendent Tony Evers, as well as various representatives from school districts and universities around the state, including parents, elementary and secondary educators, professors, advocates for children and school board members.
“Wisconsin school leaders agree, the Common Core set a much higher bar for what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college and career,” Evers said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Higher standards and better tests lead to improved instruction by educators, more information for parents and provide greater opportunities for all students.”
Despite support for the standards from the Department of Public Instruction, the Assembly committee members recommended the state explore other forms of academic standards that can be adopted locally.
The committee cited public concerns regarding unnecessary federal influence, lack of testing on the program, lack of transparency and including teachers and professors in the process, among other reasons in their cautionary recommendations.
“There is the expectation that the Common Core [Standards] will be taught, but the materials will not be available, and teachers have not been able to pilot it and learn how to do it,” University of Wisconsin professor Michael Apple, an expert on the effects and politics of educational reform, said.
In a society where teacher pay is increasingly dependent on student performance on tests, the fact that teachers have not been fully involved in the CCSS process is dangerous to their interests, Apple said.
In addition, Apple said the involvement of politicians and for-profit corporations in the program also presents problems for educators.
“We want to ensure our children get the very best education in our schools,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “The state’s model educational standards should not come from the federal level. Wisconsin needs the best standards for Wisconsin students and the curriculum decisions should be made at the local level.”
According to Apple, the program is a partial improvement on the status quo policies based on No Child Left Behind.
While No Child Left Behind was, in many ways, an “educational disaster,” Apple said, adding the standards at least attempts to more comprehensively engage students.
“There is no doubt that some of the material in the Common Core Standards are of better quality than were in No Child Left Behind,” Apple said. “It does ask students to think creatively and to reason.”
In light of challenges to CCSS implementation, the DPI will continue to look into the issue of educational reform in the state.
“We will need to take some time to review the recommendations that have just been released,” Evers said. “Adopting and implementing higher standards is about providing more opportunities for students to succeed.”