Today, Fordham is releasing a new report on the costs of putting the Common Core State Standards into place around the country. Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost? estimates the implementation cost for each of the forty-five states (and the District of Columbia) that have adopted the Common Core State Standards and shows that costs naturally depend on how states approach implementation. Authors Patrick J. Murphy of the University of San Francisco and Elliot Regenstein of EducationCounsel LLC illustrate this with three models:
Download Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core to learn more.
- Business as Usual. This “traditional” (and priciest) approach to standards-implementation involves buying hard-copy textbooks, administering annual student assessments on paper, and delivering in-person professional development to all teachers.
- Bare Bones. This lowest-cost alternative employs open-source instructional materials, annual computer-administered assessments, and online professional development via webinars and modules.
- Balanced Implementation. This is a blend of approaches, some of them apt to be effective as well as relatively cost-efficient.
The report examines the tradeoffs associated with each strategy and estimates how much the three approaches would cost each state that has adopted the Common Core. The authors also point out that, since states already invest
Education reform critics often compare the practices of elite private schools to those of traditional public schools serving our nation’s most disadvantaged students and are appalled by the differences they see. Just this morning, I saw a tweet from science teacher Aaron Reedy, retweeted to Diane Ravitch’s 30,000 followers, which said:
We need to look at what works for the wealthy and emulate that in all of our public schools.
Too many of us draw exactly the wrong lessons about what should be replicated from elite private (and public) schools.
It’s a familiar theme, and one that I—and many reformers—are sympathetic to. Unfortunately, when observing teaching and learning at elite private (and public) schools, too many of us draw exactly the wrong lessons about what should be replicated. And by doing so, we unintentionally promote strategies that end up widening the knowledge gap between children born to privilege and those born to poverty.
I wrote about this a year ago, responding to an article written by Alfie Kohn that accused urban schools in engaging in what he called “a pedagogy of poverty.” At the time, I argued:
A lot of education activists, like Alfie Kohn and Diane Ravitch, like to argue that urban schools should copy the instructional practices of elite private schools…
…What they are missing is what happens outside the classroom: the heavy reliance on parent involvement to help teach their students the key skills, knowledge and abilities they need to succeed.
Nearly two years ago, as states weighed the decision of whether to adopt the Common Core ELA and math standards, they were told that they were allowed—encouraged, even—“to add an additional 15 percent on top of the core.”
The reality is that the CCSS were never meant to represent the totality of what states expected students to know and be able to do, particularly in ELA, where the introduction specifically warns:
The CCSS were never meant to represent the totality of what states expected students to know and be able to do,
Furthermore, while the Standards make references to some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare, they do not—indeed, cannot—enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn.
Yet, despite the freedom that states have to take ownership over the standards and add the critical content teachers and leaders need to guide curriculum and instruction, only eleven states added even a single new word to the core. And in many cases, what was added was barely more than window dressing. Some of the eleven states focused on changing the format, with minimal changes to the content. Others added minor statements, phrases or clarification. (Alabama, for instance, added three standards to the K-12 math standards and seventeen “statements” to the K-12 ELA standards. Montana merely added “cultural context” to the existing CCSS.) And a few added some specific content to further clarify the intent of the
As Kathleen noted in a blog post on Saturday:
Download "Future shock: Early Common Core implementation lessons from Ohio."
There isn’t a Common Core supporter in the nation who hasn’t qualified her enthusiasm for what the standards can do with “if they are implemented properly.” On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a Common Core opponent who isn’t standing in the wings, waiting for implementation to fail.
She went on to explain why Common Core implementers must be willing to take risks, fail, and, most importantly, learn from their mistakes if the project is to succeed. Now, Fordham’s Ohio team has released a useful tool for Common Core advocates looking to avoid miscues by learning from the challenges others have already faced in the implementation process. In a new report, “Future shock: Early Common Core implementation lessons from Ohio,” veteran journalist Ellen Belcher provides the perspectives of educators working at schools around the Buckeye State that are leading the way at putting the rigorous new standards into practice. With luck, these insights into what is working—and what hasn’t worked so far—will help educators around the country through the implementation hurdles that lie ahead.
To learn more about the challenges of Common Core implementation download the full report and sign
About the Editor
Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Kathleen Porter-Magee is a Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow and the Senior Director of the High Quality Standards Program at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she leads the Institute’s work on state, national, and international standards evaluation and analysis.
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