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Bruno: CCSS "Alignment" Requires CCSS Tests (Not Textbooks)

1180227014_7d71a8eb02_nWith the Common Core being widely implemented across the country, it's common these days for every resource offered to educators to claim to be "aligned" with the new standards.

Unsurprisingly, according to researchers many of these claims are misleading at best.

Even textbooks, often at the core of classroom curriculum, frequently purport to be aligned with the CCSS despite being essentially unchanged from previous editions or omitting much of the content of the new standards.

Part the issue is undoubtedly that revising textbooks is a costly hassle for publishers. In their defense, however, there are very good reasons for publishers to wait to begin serious revisions.

 One major reason to wait is that even the best standards are inevitably vague or ambiguous on crucial points. As a result, there is often no fact of the matter about what the standards "mean."

Many of those ambiguities will not be resolved until official Common Core tests are designed and administered. Most states have yet to even field test CCSS-aligned assessments, so what students will be expected to be able to do has yet to be precisely defined.

And even in those cases where they are mostly clear, the standards themselves may not necessarily fully determine test content. Some knowledge or skills may prove difficult to meaningfully assess or tests may simply prove to be poorly designed.

These sorts of "misalignments" between the standards and the tests are both likely and significant. Teachers, after all, care as much about the requirements of the tests as they do about the standards per se, since it is the tests by which they and their students are directly evaluated.

In other words, teachers, schools, and districts probably do not want materials aligned to the Common Core standards so much as they want materials aligned to the Common Core assessments. And for practical purposes, those assessments do not yet exist.

 So we should definitely be wary about spending time or money on curricular materials that are poorly-aligned to the new Common Core standards. But the most important tests for publishers won't come until we're further along with the assessments. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

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We should back up still further, and revise these standards, in particular the mathematics ones, unless we're okay with spending all this money and engaging in all this controversy only to discover that our children are still years behind their overseas peers, with whom they are now in direct competition for coveted places in American higher education. But some of us won't allow that to happen to our children, and so are struggling mightily to open private schools that can be free of the Common Core, at least in the upper secondary years, and who therefore will stand the best chance to compete with the best students and schools in the world.

If you get the standards wrong, as Achieve did with its commission from the National Governors Association, you can't get any aligned assessments right, either; but if you want the right assessments for your students, some of us can show you where to find them, and we could work together on improving these to advance student assessment beyond anything currently in existence.

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