It seems all of the sudden, my Facebook feed blog reader, and email are full of fliers and commentary on opting out of the common core. I’ve had this sudden onslaught of discussion mostly due to the fact that one of my local districts (in Southern California) is planning town hall style meetings to discuss a new common core opt out form. However, a quick google search revealed that the debate over an opt out policy has been raging around the country for some time. So the question arises, should students and/or schools be able to opt out of common core? In what cases? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
First, a general overview of the arguments for and against allowing opt-outs (from my very limited, humble high school teacher perspective):
- Against Allowing Opt-Outs:
- The standards create continuity across states and districts. This continuity is predicated on near universal implementation and the quest for a level-playing field in education.
- The College Board is retooling the SAT to reflect common core. Since SAT scores still play such a large role in college acceptance, common core alignment is a step toward college admissions. (The college entrance test debate is a whole other story!)
- The standards were created by a diverse group of teachers, experts, and parents, to reflect goals for student achievement and the realities of the American classroom.
- The common core is evidence based, oriented toward 21st century technology, and balanced in terms of content and application.
- The standards lend themselves to tweaking for local flavor or needs. States must adopt at least 85%, but the rest can be altered.
- For Allowing Opt Outs (in general):
- Education should not be federally regulated as tightly as the vision of common core.
- Some schools, districts, and states will not be able to afford to implement the federal guidelines associated with the new standards. Common core creates an unfair financial burden on some schools.
- Common core brings states to a middle or average achievement, which will bring down academic achievement in some schools, districts, and states. 15% allowable tweaking does not adequately reflect the diversity in American education.
- The standards focus on higher order thinking without emphasizing the building blocks students need to make the leap to critical thought.
- Common core standards distract from a real need to change the pedagogical approach of many teachers.
The case of opting out in cases where the school’s philosophy doesn’t match the philosophy of the school:
Should schools that follow a progressive bent in teaching and learning without emphasis on testing, have to follow common core? Charter schools, magnet schools, and private schools have enjoyed freedom of pedagogy in the past. If they can prove their achievement in alternative assessments, should we demand they change to align with common core?
The case of opting out in cases of uniformly high achieving schools:
The argument here surrounds the idea that some schools uniformly out-perform the common core standards. Should those students be forced to spend academic time taking tests that do not even reveal their full potential?
Opting out on a student level versus and school, district, or state level:
In my local debate, the idea is that students should be able to opt out on an individual level. As a teacher, I am heavily invested in what happens next in our educational landscape. While I am undecided about the merits of opting on a school, district or state level, I am definitely opposed to the individual student option. How can I effectively do my job with one more wrench in the gears? I am already in over my head in differentiation and I just don’t see how I can add one more option. Am I missing some glaring solution to the logistics here?
I’d love to hear you weigh-in on opting-out of common core!