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Core Withdrawal?

Some states seem to be reconsidering their Common Core commitments

By Nancy Mann Jackson

Alabama’s move in February to withdraw from both of the groups designing assessments for the Common Core, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, raised red flags across the country. Alabama’s pullout echoed Utah’s, which withdrew from Smarter Balanced last year. And in Indiana, former education commissioner Tony Bennett was denied reelection last November, largely due to his support for the new Core standards.

Leaders on both sides of the issue expect that these cracks in state support for the  standards may grow.

“We will see more states reconsider their position to implement the Common Core, especially as the costs of adoption and the process of training teachers become clearer,” says Michael Horn, cofounder and executive director of Innosight Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “The issue of online assessments might also cause some states to reconsider their position.”

In Alabama, pulling out of the national testing consortia doesn’t mean the state is abandoning the Common Core. The state’s department of education “has decided to go in another direction,” says Gloria Turner, director of assessments and accountability. “We are currently implementing the Alabama College- and Career-Ready Standards, which include the Common Core standards and  Alabama-specific standards.”

Horn expects we’ll see “a handful of states fully exit the Common Core in the months ahead for a variety of reasons, which may include anti-testing fears and a fear of nationalizing education.” Opponents of the standards have recently focused their lobbying and public relations efforts in Colorado, Idaho, and Indiana.

Full-scale adoption may not happen anytime soon, but advocates say that even partial adoption is movement in a positive direction.

“I think a splintering will occur, with multiple outcomes,” Horn says, “but most states will adopt the Core with traditional testing and follow the lead from the consortia of assessment designers. This would still be an improvement from where we’ve been.”

—Spring 2013—

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