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Common Core Conflict Spikes As Colorado Bill Aims To Rethink Standards

Conflict over Common Core, the widely adopted national math and language arts standards, spiked Wednesday as opponents brought their concerns to the state Capitol while backers countered with a campaign to support the continued rollout.

Although Common Core, adopted in 45 states plus the District of Columbia, was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, it has been criticized as essentially a federal initiative in part because states that adopted it were looked on more favorably when it came to handing out millions in Race to the Top dollars.

And while it is a set of grade-level expectations, not a curriculum, critics point out that it comes with high-stakes student testing — assessments that, in many states including Colorado, will be linked to teacher evaluations. They add that teachers will naturally teach to the test, effectively making Common Core a de facto curriculum.

In Colorado, however, the department of education has guided a statewide, teacher-driven effort to produce sample curricula that address the new standards. The samples provide starting points that teachers can adapt with their own ideas to fulfill the needs of their particular district.

Jessica Cuthbertson, who teaches seventh-grade language arts at the Vista PEAK Exploratory school in Aurora and was part of the panel that spoke with lawmakers, disputes the notion that Common Core inhibits local control of curriculum.

“I’ve never had more autonomy as a practitioner,” she said.