Paul E. Barton, an experienced education researcher and author of the book National Standards: Getting Beneath the Surface, is concerned that the implementation of the Common Core standards is happening too quickly. He wrote this post for this blog:

A Critical Stage for the Common Core

The much-anticipated Common Core Standards have been rolled out—and widely praised—and tests based on the standards are being created. Now is a really critical stage when teachers must be trained and a curriculum created, and states and schools seem to be on their own. The standards have been described as very rigorous and challenging, requiring teachers to learn new pedagogies. These tasks will be both time consuming and expensive.

The early returns publicly available are worrisome. A recent Education Week story bore the headline, “Teachers Feel Unprepared for the Common Standards.” The story was based on a survey of 600 subscribing teachers who formed “quite a diverse sample.” The survey found that nearly three in ten teachers have had no training at all on the standards. Of the 70 percent who had training, 41 percent had four days or less, and three in ten had one day or less. Although job-embedded training is considered the most effective kind, only three in ten of those who received training say they received it in that way.

The respondents said that more than two-thirds of their schools were not prepared, and 27 percent said their districts were not up to the task.

In addition to teacher training, a curriculum needs to be developed and teachers need to be provided the materials they need. The standards are about what students must know, not how they will be taught. If English teachers must include more non-fiction reading, non-fiction books must be made available.

What is needed is common readiness standards. Although implementation is up to the states, it would be comforting to know that the principal actors who have gotten the standards movement this far would find a way to help guide it, check on all the stages of implementation, provide needed information about progress, and give some assistance or cautions to the states if implementation gets off track.

The new tests should not be given until implementation of the Common Core Standards is complete. It is the responsibility of the states to fully prepare teachers, develop a curriculum based on the standards, and provide teachers with the materials they need to teach to the standards. If not, students will suffer the consequences and teachers will likely be blamed.