After several failed attempts by the state legislature to rid Ohio of Common Core, the Ohio General Assembly has tasked the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) with updating Ohio’s learning standards for the first time since the state adopted Common Core in 2010.
For the third year in a row, students in took a revised version of the state’s standardized exam in April, which is aligned with Common Core, after those involved with the 2015 test deemed it too long and said it included content that did not correspond to the grade levels to which the tests were administered.
ODE received more than 1,000 comments from individuals and groups responding to a public survey about revisions to the standards. The board has also formed advisory committees and working groups to help with the process.
According to the ODE website, the working groups and advisory committees aim to have a draft of revised standards for English and math available for public comment by July 2016. Revisions of science, social studies, and financial literacy standards are set to begin in fall 2016. The goal is to have the revised standards approved by the State Board of Education in December 2016, in time to prepare materials in 2017 for the 2017–18 school year.
Common Core Defects
Emmett McGroarty, director of education for the American Principles Project, says Common Core is a low-quality curriculum.
“The Common Core standards are of poor, highly defective quality,” McGroarty said. “By 8th grade, children are two years behind their peers in high-performing countries. Moreover, they have been deprived of having a comfortable academic progression to be ready for [science, technology, engineering, and math] studies, or even for admission to a competitive university for study in the liberal arts.
“Common Core is especially damaging to disadvantaged children,” McGroarty said. “Children from well-to-do families can avail themselves of private schooling or private tutors in order to work around Common Core’s defects.”
McGroarty says one of those “defects” is Common Core fails to help children develop essential academic skills.
“Common Core English lowers the academic trajectory for students by severely reducing the study of complex, narrative literature in favor of dumbed-down workforce ‘informational texts,'” McGroarty said. “Informational texts are meant to clearly convey a message to an audience, and generally a broad audience at that. Such texts lack the complexity of narrative literature, which, among other things … require students to read between the lines, consider the actions of characters, and empathize with multiple points of view.”
Revision ‘Both Smart and Necessary’
Chad Aldis, vice president of Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which advocated for the implementation of Common Core, says the comprehensive review process developed by ODE at the direction of the Ohio General Assembly is a positive step toward needed improvement of the state’s standards.
“We believe this review is both smart and necessary,” Aldis said. “The Common Core State Standards provided a very strong starting point for Ohio’s learning standards, but as time goes on, it’s important that the state, listening to Ohio teachers, continues to modify and improve the standards. The State Board of Education and department deserve praise for establishing a comprehensive process that allows everyone’s voice to be heard.”
Matt Hurley ([email protected]) writes from Cincinnati, Ohio.