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June 24, 2014 1:07 PM Colleges Late to the Table on Common Core

By Ed Kilgore

The state-based but federally-encouraged Common Core K-12 education standards have obtained belated national media coverage of late, mainly because of a strong conservative (and somewhat less visible and intense progressive) backlash against the initiative, which has reached the point of sabotage in several Republican-governed states, most recently Louisiana.

But unless this backlash accelerates significantly, the initiative is about to be implemented in a majority of states. And in a web exclusive for WaMo, the Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus notes that one important party to Common Core’s ultimate objectives, the higher ed sector, is showing itself dangerously slow to get ready:

[O]f the 45 states and the District of Columbia that have signed onto the Common Core, education commissions in 35 of them report major or minor challenges in working with higher-education institutions on the transition to the new standards, according to the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University.
“It’s probably fair to say that, out of all the players involved in the development of the Common Core, higher education was the one that was less involved than it probably should have been,” said Maria Ferguson, the center’s executive director.

Why does that matter? Well, for one thing Common Core has significant implications for college curriculum:

Rather than simply memorizing facts, the new standards call for students in primary and secondary schools to master critical and analytical thinking and problem-solving — college-level skills.
“The hope is that the students will come not with a new set of information they didn’t have before, but with different types of thinking that really are required for success in higher education,” said Elizabeth Hinde, director of teacher preparation at Arizona State University, who is working to coordinate the Common Core among educators across that state.
That means changing some of the curriculum in college, particularly at the introductory stages. Those summer workshops in Tennessee are to train university faculty who teach entry-level courses in English and math, which are being redesigned to account for what students now will be expected to learn in the 11th and 12th grades — and to synch up with the Common Core by emphasizing interdisciplinary reading and writing, for example, rather than solely reading literature and doing narrative writing.

Check it all out.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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