All Children Left Behind - Common Standards for Our Student's Past by Lisa Nielsen

All Children Left Behind - Common Standards for Our Student's Past by Lisa Nielsen

Cross Posted at The Innovative Educator

The common standards movement is underway in 48 states in our nation and these standards are set to be finalized this month. I’ve been reading what the smart educators I respect are saying about these standards. Here is the summation. These are poorly written standards being put in place with testing companies at the forefront of the decision making. These ed testing companies as well as other big educational businesses/curriculum providers have a huge financial profit to gain after the adoption of these standards because a nation can now adopt their curriculum. There is no alignment or recognition of the changing face of education and the digital worlds in which our students are existing, reading, writing, interacting, producing, and publishing.

What can we do? Provide feedback today about the standards by visiting It literally takes less than five minutes. You can use my words above, the words of others below or write your own.

Below are excerpts from other educators about their take on the standards, links to each resource, and where to visit for more information.

On Common Standards

16 Oct 2009 07:18 am

Will Richardson

One look at the reading standards and you can’t help but be left with the impression that the authors have never “read” anything much beyond words on paper and that the idea of “remix” and even links are outside of their experience. There is nothing here about how reading and writing in online and digital spaces changes the interaction, nothing about the social interactions that readers and writers will have around texts that are changing rapidly and substantially.

In all of this, the thing that most frustrates me both in the talk about national standards and national assessments and the whole “Race to the Top” bunk that is coming out of the administration is just a total lack of vision, this sense that nothing has fundamentally changed, that this is the same old classroom with the same old expectations and the same old ways of proving them that we’ve had forever. I’m not saying we don’t need assessments, but there’s a lot of required learning right now that few if any standards are addressing.

Weblogg-ed Comment by Gary Stager

2009-10-19 03:51:17

Replacing one externally-created checklist with another undoubtedly more voluminous one will not help one child.

You cannot have “core” standards without additional standardized testing. Now districts already addicted to testing will have a more potent hallucinogenic with which they can poison public education.

Teachers and students are terrorized by testing and externally-imposed curricular mandates.

Core Standards - Sound Bites and Standardization

Saturday, October 10. 2009

Chris Lehmann

This Core Standards movement should scare everyone who believes that meaning and learning is still most powerfully made in the spaces that students and teachers share. More than teachers, students, state administrators, the group that stands most to gain from national standards and a national test is the education-industrial complex.

This isn't about whether or not people think that all students should be able to write a thesis statement. This is about how students are taught that information, how they are assessed on that information, and on the role of big business in teaching and assessing them.

I find them hard to read, because I think they are poorly written, but standards often are.

10 Reasons you should care about the Common Core State Standards Initiative's Draft English Language Arts Standards

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tom Hoffman

We are inviting testing companies to determine the future of our schools with virtually no accountability or public input.

These standards were developed by two testing companies, the College Board and ACT, with help from a nebulous non-profit, Achieve, Inc. It is essential to understand this when reading the Common Standards; it explains many of their odd choices. In the example above, the obvious interpretation is that they chose to define the standard as "support or challenge assertions" rather than "construct a response or interpretation," as every international example they cited did, because the former is much easier and cheaper to score reliably on a standardized test.

No high performing educational system in the world would consider giving testing companies this much control over their standards and curriculum. It is absurd.

These standards are specifically designed to not be the sole responsibility of English teachers, so any data system properly linking student performance on related tests to teachers would attribute the results to all subject area teachers.

The idea that these English Language Arts standards are "internationally benchmarked" to those of high performing countries is a farce, except insofar as the benchmarking demonstrates the low level and quality of our proposed standards.

No country with high reading scores in international assessments conceives of the discipline of Language Arts as being limited to literacy skills, or "college- and career-readiness," as the Common Standards do. Thus, the Common Standards are narrower, lower and shallower than the English Language Arts standards of high performing countries.

Catching Up or Leading the Way

Saturday, October 10. 2009

Yong Zhao

Zhao describes how schools have to keep pace with a world that is being dramatically transformed by globalization, the “death of distance,” and digital technology. Instead of falling in line with mandates for standardization, his prescription is for educators to

  • Expand the definition of success beyond math and reading test scores.
  • Personalize schooling so that every student has opportunity to learn.
  • View schools as enterprises that embrace globalization and digital technology.

Gotham Schools in New York City is running this series on the Common Standards:

Standards: Demystifying, Debunking and Discrediting

I encourage you to read the full articles, take a look at the standards for yourself and provide feedback at

For Further Reading

Lisa Nielsen has spent more than a decade working in various capacities in educational innovation at the NYC DOE and Teachers College, Columbia University including as a technology innovation manager, manager of instructional technology professional development, literacy and instructional technology coach, teacher, librarian, and staff developer. Ms. Nielsen is a Google Certified Teacher, International Edublogger, and creator of The Innovative Educator social network, blog, and wiki all of which can be found at

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of the NYC DOE, the AVP or any other entity.