Credit state leaders for sticking with higher standards for Wisconsin students.

After a series of public hearings around the state this fall, Assembly Republicans appear ready to tweak — rather than tear apart — the Common Core education guidelines, according to the Associated Press last week.

That’s good news for students and Wisconsin’s economy. Our state needs to boost achievement in language, math and science to keep and attract the good-paying jobs of the future. Too many students are slipping behind their peers around the world.

The Common Core standards set what students should know at each grade level — not just facts, but how to think critically. Prior standards were vague and inadequately prepared students for college or career.

Setting high goals and regularly measuring progress should encourage better results.

State Superintendent Tony Evers signed a proclamation adopting the Common Core standards three years ago. Nearly every other state in the nation has done the same.

Wisconsin has spent nearly $25 million to implement the higher expectations. So unraveling the effort now would waste that money.

Late to the game were tea party critics imagining a federal plot to destroy local control of schools. Some educators and left-wing critics fear corporate influence and standardized testing.

But Common Core already allows local schools lots of flexibility on instruction. It defines the goals for learning — not how to meet them.

Moreover, the initiative began not with the Obama administration but with the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, working with educators, nonprofits and industry.

Better testing and more timely results will give educators and parents more information to target shortcomings.

Some lawmakers have complained the standards are still too low. But Common Core represents a big improvement over the state’s previous guidelines. And nothing stops Wisconsin students from exceeding the new goals.

Rather than nitpicking or politicizing Common Core, state lawmakers should embrace the higher standards as an honest effort to boost learning.

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(4) comments


One of the biggest mistakes being made by public school administrators and politicians is the push to pressure educators to "teach to the test". These standardized tests have been heavily promoted in Congress and in state legislatures by the profit-based corporations which design and produce them.

NCLB fully embraced this simplistic and one-dimensional method of educational assessment­. However, there are far too many important aspects of learning and cognitive growth -- hands-on laboratory techniques and skills, data processing and analysis, deductive reasoning and analytical thinking -- that do not lend themselves to assessment via these types of standardized multiple choice tests.

In addition, these tests are often administered one to two months before the end of the school year, yet they are designed to evaluate student achievement and conceptual understanding of the entire year's curriculum in that subject area. So teachers are being pressured to restructure the curricular content, eliminating or postponing until late in the school year coverage of those skills and topics that are not emphasized on the standardized test.

But politician­­s (and many administrators) love simple, objective measuring sticks -- even if what they measure has little value. So we invest millions of taxpayer dollars and valuable days of instructional time administer­­ing these tests to students, and essential judgements about the quality of education and critical decisions regarding education­­al practice and policy -- including school funding, county and state-level punitive measures, teacher evaluations, and merit-based pay -- are made based on this single metric.

Common Core may prove to be yet another corporate-driven reinvention of the standardized testing wheel as well as a waste of educational resources, classroom time, and taxpayer dollars. Its focus on critical thinking skills is admirable, but the logistics involving in implementing this type of standardized test, collecting valid data, and objectively assessing the results are not trivial.
It hasn't been implemented in very many districts yet, so only time will tell.

Meanwhile, social conservatives and tea party pundits have demonstrated their addiction to conspiracy theories, this time asserting that Common Core is a "Big Brother" plot by the Obama Administration designed to brainwash our youth by promoting critical thinking skills and to keep a massive, clandestine database on our kids.

imagining a federal plot to destroy local controls? Please explain? We have lost local controls. As soon as we adopted these we could not change the curriculum locally. The worst part of CC is that our elected reps were not allowed a chance to debate, discuss, or vote on them. The idea of CC may have initiated with the Govs assoc, but after that they had little to no involvement so to claim they are behind this to give it credibility is false. This is actually a takeover by Mcgraw Hill and other publishers who will gain Billions from all the new text, worksheets, workbooks etc that EVERY school in the country now needs.The standards are vague and practically no testing was ever done to prove they provided better results. so why were they adopted everywhere? To provide an out to no child left behind. States adopted these or they would face penalties for failing to meet the standards under NCLB, What a terrible reason to make a gigantic change like this. barack saw an opportunity to grab control of the cirricullum for All children in our nation and this holds piles of subtle liberal ideals and thought processes


motr= We need more vouchers. More religion taught. More fables. More superstitions. Anything but math and science and language. Heaven forbid kids learn something and then think for themselves. See you at the next Tea-Party meeting. I'll be wearing the colonial hat and shouting "no taxes! "


honest but feckless. "Beats a sharp stick in the eye," as my mom used to say. I Love my mom. She had a common core too.

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