Today, a Washington Post blog that generally airs anti-education reform messages carried a piece by Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige.
They mention that “Recent critiques of the Common Core Standards by Marion Brady and John T. Spencer have noted that the process for creating the new K-12 standards involved too little research, public dialogue, or input from educators.” In one fell swoop they pointed to two glaring problems in public education today.
The first is a lack of credible research to support the new initiatives that are foisted on our children. For example, differentiated instruction has become common currency in the classroom of today. All too often, classrooms are depicted with groups of students helping each other, while the teacher moves between groups as needed. The old image of the teacher, a respected figure, in front of the classroom, imparting knowledge is fast disappearing.
Yet, there is little evidence that differentiation is an effective practice for all students, especially those at both tail ends of the learning spectrum. There is sparse research on differentiated instruction and none that meets the standards of a robust scientific study.
Carol Tomlinson, the William Clay Parrish Jr. Professor of Education at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, is a self-described “guru on the topic of differentiated instruction.” Research cited on her website, DifferentiationCentral, does not seem to include scientific studies on the efficacy of a differentiated classroom. Yet, the education establishment has embraced the practice with nary a whisper in protest.
The second problem with public education is the lack of bona fide parental involvement. Parental involvement often takes the form of seeking approval for a specific approach the education establishment has chosen to embrace.
Both these problems apparently afflict the planning and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Miller and Carlsson-Paige deftly draw attention to the fact that it is not reform that is the problem, instead, it is the establishment’s approach to reform.