Pedagogical Paradox within Common Core

While I agree with the following article, the excerpt below highlights a paradox within Common Core, from a curricular, and pedagogical, perspective.

“Shouldn’t California be collaborating with other states, with a goal of common textbooks  – knowing that California, with its sizable population of English learners, will have distinct requirements?”

It is a paradox since it is quite the challenge for each state, with its own set of distinct requirements, curricular, or otherwise, to collaborate on creating common textbooks when the sum of all distinctions may conflict, hence, be very uncommon, especially when considering that English language learners come from many differing linguistic backgrounds.  Even if it were possible to harmonize these requirements, the end product would likely be an unwieldy textbook, where many sections are not applicable.  If, however, a reasonable set of “common distinctions”* is possible,  then common textbooks might be realistic.  Regardless, CA should engage in this activity, as the author points out, or continue lagging the nation in achievement.  Additionally, given the fiscal crisis throughout our nation, creating common textbooks, and associated curricula, would hopefully make the state take its fiduciary responsibilities seriously.

* not entirely an oxymoron in this case, but a significant challenge to bound reasonably while minimally compromising on unique needs


California out of sync with Common Core

Will the state have tests years before textbooks?

Posted on 11/15/10 • Categorized as Common Core standardsState Board of Education

By John Fensterwald – Educated GuessIn July 2009, the Legislature suspended the work of the Curriculum Commission, which screens textbooks and course materials, for four years. It may have been out of spite – a slap at the State Board of Education, to which the Commission reports. It may have been to save money for the state and school districts, which could use textbook money for other purposes. It may have been both. 

Whatever the motivation, that decision is jeopardizing the state’s ability to prepare students and teachers for Common Core standards in math and language arts, which the State Board adopted in August. If the timeline isn’t changed, the state will have tests in Common Core subjects two years before it has approved the textbooks that students need to learn those subjects. The cart would be way ahead of the horse.

Here’s the problem: California is a member of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC, one of two state consortiums that is under a federal deadline to create the Common Core tests for states to use by 2014-15. The Curriculum Commission has been suspended until 2013. Before it can begin the process of soliciting and recommending textbooks and course materials, it first has to create curriculum frameworks. These are the detailed blueprints that translate how standards should be taught. Creating them is a lengthy process, involving reviews in the field and public hearings, that can take up to two years.

After frameworks are completed in 2015 – math would go first – the commission would begin the textbook solicitation process, which by the law is required to take 2½ years (There’s no reason that period can’t be shortened.). That would push adoption to 2017 at the earliest.  And that in turn could delay training teachers in the textbooks.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has said that a smooth preparation for Common Core would be a priority of his administration. If so, then next year he must persuade the Legislature to reconstitute the Curriculum Commission – and spell out its role with regard to Common Core and PARCC.

First, though, he and the State Board must deal with a bigger question: With 38 states having adopted Common Core standards and having agreed to join two consortiums that will create assessments, what is the role of an individual state in creating curriculum frameworks? Shouldn’t California be collaborating with other states, with a goal of common textbooks  – knowing that California, with its sizable population of English learners, will have distinct requirements?

There is no formal governing board now for Common Core, so it’s all quite fluid. But California could quickly find itself out of the loop. At this point, it’s a minor player in PARCC. Meanwhile, states that have won Race to the Top money have a leg up on making the transition from state standards to Common Core and on writing curriculum frameworks.

Having made a commitment to adopt Common Core, California can’t afford to fall farther behind or have tests precede textbooks.


About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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One Response to Pedagogical Paradox within Common Core

  1. Pingback: Law of Cosines: An Honors Precalculus Assessment Question | Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher

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