Central planning sucks.
States that adopted the Common Core national education standards still can’t provide textbooks that actually teach what the standards require. That’s a big problem for students who have to take Core-mandated standardized tests that are misaligned with their teachers’ instructional materials.
An eye-opening investigation by Matt Collette of The Daily Beast reveals that most textbooks don’t fully meet the standards, despite advertising themselves as Core-aligned. Collette consulted EdReports, a non-profit that evaluates textbooks; the group recently reviewed more than 80 textbooks and found that only 11 of them matched Common Core requirements.
Most damning of all was the fact that Pearson—a publishing giant with significant Common Core ties and exclusive contracts to develop testing materials for some Core-compliant states—“had zero textbooks evaluated as being aligned with the Common Core,” according to Collette. This means, in a sense, that the gigantic corporation making the tests is also producing textbooks that don’t teach to those tests.
Additionally ironic—and certainly noteworthy—is the fact the EdReports is funded by the Gates Foundation, an organization that funded and developed the Common Core and lobbied for its widespread adoption. I would thus expect EdReports to air on the side of favorable coverage for Core-related matters. That even a Gates-funded endeavor has serious concerns about textbook compliance suggests to me that concern is indeed merited.
The degree to which misaligned textbooks are a huge problem for students and teachers can’t be overstated. From The Beast:
Cheryl Schafer was a veteran math teacher by the time Common Core arrived in New York back in 2010. It was apparent to her almost immediately that teachers didn’t have the materials they needed to teach to the new national standards.If Common Core puts the Pythagorean Theorem on the test for seventh graders, but the textbook doesn’t teach it until eighth grade, students are going to be screwed over by low test scores. That’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to teachers whose salaries and job security rely on their students scoring well.
Take a middle school staple like the Pythagorean Theorem: “One text series had it as a sixth grade unit, one had it at eighth grade, and the Common Core wanted us to teach it in seventh grade,” Schafer recalled. “So it didn't matter what you were using: there was disagreement all over the place.”
In response to the new standards, textbook publishers touted new editions they said were aligned to the Common Core. But nearly all of them were just repackaged versions of earlier books.
And even five years later, the vast majority of textbooks say they’re aligned with the Common Core when they actually aren’t, creating a huge burden for teachers whose performance is often tied to their students’ test scores based on those standards.
It would appear a massive federal takeover of K-12 education that was subsequently outsourced to a confluence of pseudo-government and crony corporate interests isn’t delivering a very practical product for American children. Now who would have expected that?