Despite a steady stream of misinformation in recent weeks, the new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that include the Common Core State Standards will better prepare students for higher education and the workplace. For the record:
- When nearly 40% of MA students require remedial coursework upon entering college, when gains in student achievement have clearly leveled off, when employers say they can’t find workers with the right competencies to fill jobs, and when even our top students remain far behind their peers in leading nations, it’s clear we are not sufficiently preparing students for the future. The reforms that have led to great progress over the past 20 years are not enough to take us where we need to go in the future.
- The Common Core State Standards were developed through a voluntary, state-led effort facilitated by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The writing of the standards, which involved educators and experts from Massachusetts, predates the Race to the Top competition. For a great summary of the true history of the standards read this Huffington Post column.
- Assertions that the new MA standards end with Algebra II are patently false. The standards include advanced courses such as precalculus and advanced quantitative reasoning. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provides sample pathways for students to complete an accelerated track and prepare for college-level STEM courses.
- The new math standards were developed with input from critical stakeholder groups in this state including teachers, professors from Tufts, Framingham State, Boston College, Middlesex Community College, UMASS, Worcester State, Salem State, Bridgewater State, Springfield College, Lesley, Harvard, Boston University as well as representatives from several foundations, business associations and advocates for students.
Massachusetts has avoided much of the controversy over the standards since they are so closely aligned with what we were already using. As new assessments that are aligned to these standards and actually measure a student’s ability to apply what they have learned are introduced, it will be important for anyone concerned about the college and career readiness of our children to make sure the information they are receiving is valid and accurate. Sample test items for every grade have been posted online so teachers, parents, students and others can see what students will be expected to do on the field tests later this spring.