Most of the major textbooks used in U.S. schools do not meet expectations for alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a study has found.
CCSS is a set of national standards dictating what students should know at the end of each grade level.
Teams of current and former teachers conducted a review of digital and print K–8 English language arts (ELA) textbooks from popular publishers for EdReports.org, a nonprofit organization providing educators’ reviews of instructional materials. Reviewers examined the materials to determine how they meet CCSS expectations for “three gateways,” which are listed as “text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards with tasks and questions grounded in evidence, building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks, and instructional supports and usability.”
EdReports.org released mixed results from the review in August.
“Of the seven instructional series analyzed, three completely met the benchmarks for being considered aligned to the Common Core State Standards for reading and three partially met them,” reported EdWeek. “Just one textbook series—Pearson’s Reading Street Common Core for grades 3–6—was deemed fully unaligned.”
EdReports.org conducted a similar review for K–8 mathematics materials in March 2015. EdWeek reported at the time, “Seventeen of 20 math series reviewed were judged as failing to live up to claims that they are aligned to the Common Core.”
‘Shabby, Subpar Standards’
Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and former senior associate commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, says Common Core is flawed.
“Overall, I don’t see why any publisher should be trying to address ELA standards,” Stotsky said. “The basic point is I wouldn’t want to have curriculum materials aligned with shabby, subpar standards.
“As far as I’m concerned, schools would be better off keeping their old anthologies, which were better than ELA’s fragmented, incoherent approach to teaching literature,” said Stotsky. “What happened to having, say, Romeo and Juliet? There’s no rhyme or reason [to the ELA selections].”
‘No Constitutional Right’
Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with American Principles Project, says the federal government should withdraw from its oversight of public education.
“Even if [Common Core] standards were good, it’s not something the federal government should even be doing,” Robbins said. “I favor giving education back to the states. The federal government should be staying out of it completely. They have no constitutional right to be doing it in the first place.”
Robbins says Common Core advances a skills-based mentality that allows for “broad centralization” of oversight that ultimately leads to a rampant “dumbing down” of education.
“We really should move away from Common Core,” Robbins said. “It’s diminishing the focus on academic progress and trying to train students with skills. That doesn’t educate anyone, and it doesn’t prepare anyone for the real world.”
Cheryl K. Chumley ([email protected]) writes from Northern Virginia.
Jay Lehr, “A Common Sense Case Against Common Core,” February 19, 2015: https://heartland.org/news-opinion/news/a-common-sense-case-against-common-core-1?source=policybot