I remain unimpressed. Frankly, I don't see how these standards are going to be the impetus to improve any aspect of education.
As a lawyer I occasionally draft contracts and, let me tell you, you have to use much more precise language than this to actually get someone to reliably do what you want (and are paying) them to do.
I'd bet that all fifty states could adopt these standards, not change a single thing they are doing, and claim compliance.
Some of these standards are incredibly silly.
Take for example this one under print concepts for kindergarten (p. 16)
Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. ... Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page-by-page.This looked familiar to me and sure enough Minnesota had (has) a similar standard.
Follow print (words and text) from left to right and top to bottom.
Bob Dixon lampooned Minnesota's standard as being ridiculous and I'm thinking the same criticism applies to the Core standard.
Students should certainly do this when learning to read. My question is this: Before Minnesota developed this standard, was anyone there not teaching kids to read English from left to right and top to bottom? Apparently. The people who sat on that committee and collectively decided to write this out as a standard for the children of Minnesota—did they feel literate and scholarly and innovative when the final vote was tallied? I hope this standard makes a significant contribution toward correcting the problem with the way people used to teach reading in Minnesota.
This sentiment applies to pretty much all of the Core standards, even the less ridiculous ones.
In fact Dixon's criticism of the Standards movement is one of the best I've seen and applies to Core's standards.
These standards are harmful because they are, for the most part, meaningless verbal detritus on the one hand, but textbook publishers live and die off them, on the other. Even with respect to clearly incomprehensible standards, publishers have to come up with something to stick in a textbook that helps create the illusion that the textbook is aligned with some set of standards. I am empathetic with the publishers … to a point. The standards are a major incentive for the publishers to produce crap. Over the years, I’ve worked with several major publishers, and none of them has aspired to produce crap. They do it, though, because the market demands that they do it.
And standards and state tests, taken together, are very harmful. First, because the standards are so bad, it is nearly impossible to assess them. In short, the standards and the state tests don’t align, except in the most meaningless and specious ways. But here is the biggest problem of them all, and the reason the tests and standards are so damaging. IF the standards were really “good” according to some criteria that would make sense to the average educated person on the street, and if they were precise enough to be aligned with assessment tools that were actually technically sound, widespread failure would continue, unabated. Figure 1 shows Doug Carnine’s illustration of the problem.
The black box in the middle is the magic by which teachers start out with goals for students and end up with students performing brilliantly on tests that are valid and reliable. The black box is the instruction, and the states and just about everyone else are so clueless about instruction that they give it very little attention. With the best standards and the best assessments, the system is doomed to failure if, at the center of it all, we don’t have the best instruction. As it stands now, the standards are, for the most part, ridiculous, and few if any of the state assessments have been certified as valid and reliable.
So using the inductive learning model to judge the effectiveness of Standards reform, let's evaluate standards as an education reform.
Standards aren't going to affect teacher or student effectiveness. The theory is that standards will improve curriculum effects. But, I don't see that happening. Standards, like the Core standards, that are easily subvertible will be subverted and educators will continue to do what they are presently doing -- because that's what they want to do. And if NCLB 1.0 taught us anything, its that standardized assessments, even the high stakes variety, are simply not capable of improving student outcomes. At best, improved standards and perfect assessments, might have a very indirect effect on curriculum and instruction. Just because you write the perfect standard does not mean that educators will be able to teach it to the kids who they are currently unable to teach it to today without the standards.