Barriers to Improvement
The Grade reports that Missouri has joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative. This is how Missouri’s Commissioner of Education defends the decision:
“We now have a patchwork of differing state-developed standards, and that has become a barrier to improving academic performance for all students,” Nicastro said. “The Common Core project is a constructive effort, led by the states themselves, to define academic goals and priorities for all schools.”
It just doesn’t make sense that the variance in other states’ standards is a barrier to improvement here in Missouri. Missouri is free to change its standards without coordinating with any other state.
I also disagree with the idea that all schools need to have the same academic goals and priorities. A magnet high school with a math and science theme is not going to have the same priorities as an arts school. And uniform goals are a bad idea for traditional public schools, too, because no two districts are alike. A district that’s competently teaching basic skills may want to try to cover more content; a district whose students struggle with routine reading assessments might concentrate on literacy.
Each district could do more to improve, and each has to overcome obstacles to succeed. But variance in states’ standards isn’t one of those barriers.