The Common Core education standards are being criticized as too tough. An edict from above. Another way of tightening the tyrannical grip of standardized testing on education.
We hope the road ahead for the Common Core -- a set of standards that the District of Columbia and 45 states, including Colorado (and New Mexico), have agreed to adopt -- gets smoother because it has a lot to offer the nation's students.
First, let's talk about what the Common Core is not. It is not a common curriculum or an effort to nationalize education.
It's a way of ensuring that the nation's school districts are aiming for the same level of proficiency on an agreed-upon menu of things that kids should know. How you get there is your choice.
We think it's long overdue. And if it raises the bar, that's a good thing.
As it stands, a startling number of young people headed for college have to take remediation classes before they can actually begin school. In Colorado, 40 percent of high school graduates need remediation.
We should be aiming higher, and holding educators, communities and students accountable if those goals aren't achieved.
And yet the Common Core is under fire in a number of places. Indiana is reconsidering it. Michigan lawmakers are contemplating whether to suspend the standards. Georgia has withdrawn from a group developing common tests due to concerns over cost. It will develop its own test.
Colorado, on the other hand, is moving forward, having adopted the standards in 2010.
The Colorado Academic Standards, a melding of state and national efforts, are the end product. They will be in place this fall.
As the standards edge closer to broad adoption, the critics have gotten more vocal. A recent New York Times story examined the landscape for the standards, and touched on concern generated when New York, an early adopter, saw its proficiency rates take a nosedive.
Diane Ravitch, an education historian and frequent critic of reform, was quoted in The Times as calling the standards "way too high." The truth is, they should be high enough so that kids who pass through the K-12 system with satisfactory marks may go to college without remediation.
While it might take a few test cycles to adjust, that will happen. And our children will be better prepared as a result.
—The Denver Post, Aug. 22