Robert Shepherd is an experienced author, curriculum designer, textbook publisher, and assessment developer.
Here’s why I oppose across-the-board standards that are, de facto, mandatory:
Standards tell us what we are supposed to teach at what grades and roughly in what order, and the require that the same material be taught to everyone. What’s wrong with that?
Well, for one thing, the single set of standards hamstrings textbook writers, curriculum designers, and teachers. They are no longer free to create new, innovative, learning progressions. Someone else has already decided for them what should be taught and when There are much more sensible learning progressions in the various domains than are instantiated in these standards [sic], but one can no longer even broach those. One has to follow the authoritarian prescription from on high. This mandate stifles innovation in curricular and pedagogical design. I am already seeing, all around the country, educational publishers turning out programs that slavishly follow the new standards as though they were a curriculum. Big, big mistake.
For another, there are no standardized kids. What is taught and when should be tailored to kids and their needs.
For another, the Common Core State Standards in ELA are themselves very poorly designed. They are extraordinarily regressive. They do not reflect what we now know about what works and what doesn’t in these various domains. Often, they seem to have been slotted very much at random. They combine apples and oranges and shoelaces into single standards. Some are extraordinarily broad. Some are extraordinarily specific. But we are stuck with them. We have no choice. That choice has been taken from us. This is what the standard says. This is what you have to teach, whether it makes sense or not.