Common Core

Why Common Core Will Fail: 'Children Are Not Standardized'


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Forbes contributor Alice Walton has written a terrific roundup of the anti-Common Core expert consensus. Numerous education researchers and academics have reservations about greater classroom standardization—particularly in the early grades, where excessive testing and homework is most deleterious for kids.

Walton writes:

David Elkind, long-time child development expert at Tufts University and author ofThe Hurried Child, says that a related problem with the Common Core standards is that "children are not standardized." Between ages 4 to 7, he says, kids are undergoing especially rapid changes in cognitive ability, but this neurological and psychological development occurs at all different rates. "Some children attain these abilities—which enable them to learn verbal rules, the essence of formal instruction—at different ages.

Some of the experts cited by Walton argued the long hours of standardized testing that kindergartners must endure under Common Core are wholly inappropriate:

 Diane Ravitch, education historian at NYU and vocal criticof the Common Core, says that in particular, "the early grades are developmentally inappropriate. Children of 5 and 6 and 7 need time for play, not a forced academic march. They will have 6-hour, 8-hour tests. That is nuts…. The American ideal was always a well-rounded child prepared for citizenship and life. Now it is all test prep."

While others disputed the notion—vehemently asserted by Core supporters—that the standards are internationally benchmarked:

[2013 New York High School Principal of the Year Carol Burris] adds that exactly which countries to which the Common Core is benchmarked remains a mystery. "What's so fascinating is that many of the high-performing countries children start much later. In some countries, like Singapore, there are two years of Kindergarten. In Finland, another high performing nation, students start much later. In Canada, which uses provincial standards, the early years are a time for play and exploration. No one can find to what country these Standards are benchmarked."

Full article here.

There are of course many experts who dispute the above notions and believe that Common Core is an improvement over what is being offered in many American schools. They may even be right; it's perfectly possible that Common Core is bad and what it's replacing is worse. This is the public school system we are talking about, after all.

But why waste tons of time, money, and effort enacting an across-the-board reform that makes kids miserable, relies on deeply unsettled science, has no demonstrable benefit, and deals a death blow to federalism (at least as far as national education policy is concerned)?

More choice, not less, is what will save public education. As Elkin observed, kids don't come standard.