The new standards released on March 10 by the Common Core State Standards Initiative represent the best effort so far to transform today's patchwork quilt of 50 sets of state standards into one set of strong, consistent expectations for what all students should know and learn, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.
The standards, which will be finalized after a public comment period, define the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. They are available online, along with a link for submitting feedback.
Earlier this year, AFT members reviewed draft standards and suggested extensive changes to make them clearer and more useful for teachers. "We are pleased that CCSSI took many of our suggestions to heart, and as a result, these standards are much improved over earlier drafts," Weingarten says. "Going forward, the standards must continue to be refined and additional parts must be developed. We will take full advantage of the public comment period to make sure teachers continue to have a voice in the process.
"Many of the people who years ago launched the first 'standards movement' overstated the importance of standards, acting as if standards alone could transform our schools. But better standards, by themselves, aren't enough. Every state must align curriculum, assessments and professional development for teachers to the standards. Also, in order to make the standards work for kids, we need to give teachers the other tools they need, as well as more support from administrators and more time to work with each other. That's why the AFT is exploring, with the Council of the Great City Schools, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, a pilot project to implement the standards as part of a comprehensive standards-based system.
"As a longtime advocate for common standards, the AFT commends CCSSI for taking this important step. We look forward to working with CCSSI and others to do all we can to help provide America's students a world-class, 21st-century education." [AFT press release]
March 10, 2010