Consortium Matters

Early College and the Common Core

My column in the last issue may have led the reader to think that I was not in agreement with the Common Core.  The opposite is true. I think the Common Core can, if thoughtfully implemented, provide a very different educational experience for the high school students of this country that would lead to college readiness.

The Common Core with its emphasis on critical literacies, application and extension of knowledge, and the demand for multipleDr. Cecilia Cunninghamrevisions will not be easily measured by a set of tests. England’s development of multiple performance based assessments system in the 80’s was cumbersome, expensive and ultimately not scalable.  They abandoned it in 2005 for the high school level and reverted back to their original testing system.  We could waste decades and a generation or two trying to find the perfect measurement. I am suggesting instead that we use an extensive college/high school curriculum alignment process that strengthens the pathway from one segment of learning to another.  An alignment process has the advantage of tapping the expertise of existing teachers and providing them the time to engage in professional developme nt activities.  It also strengthens the local relationships between school districts and institutions of higher education, especially when teachers and professors who live in the community and will continue to live in the community jointly share responsibility for student success. Finally if there are any private or federal grant monies, they get poured into strengthening the existing system not creating a new testing business. After a rigorous alignment process, all students should be required to pass a core set of college level courses before they graduate from high school.  If there is local determination in the number and type of college courses, then students could have opportunities to strengthen academic or technical areas, aim for a certificate or degree, and demonstrate levels of preparation. Finally, requiring at least one college course for high school graduation can reduce the cost of public education by reducing overlap and eliminating wasted time and the need for remediation. Starting college early has the added benefit of the possibility of breaking apart the age based progression used in our schools.  As we have learned more about brain development, we have not integrated these learnings in any serious way into our educational system. Countless youth are failing unnecessarily because they do not meet arbitrary age grade progressions. At our Winter Leadership Conference we will continue our conversation on Early College and the Common Core.