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Bill Honig: Why California Likes the Common Core Standards

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Since the Common Core is doing so well in New Hampshire, opponents use New York as their example of the negative impact the standards have on students. But New York has made the Common Core part of its punitive, teacher-bashing education policy, a world away from New Hampshire.
And a world away from California, apparently.
Here, the judicious and thoughtful comments of the well known and widely respected Bill Honig about the experience in the hugely important state of California feel to me like a turning point in the Common Core debate.

Bill Honig’s testimony will become a touchstone from now on.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Many people who post on this blog–including me–have expressed grave doubts about the Common Core standards–about how they were created, funded, evaluated, and promoted, as well as their connection to high-stakes testing and evaluation of teachers by test scores. Others, including me, worry about the Common Core testing and the fact that the two federally-funded testing consortia decided to align their cut score (passing mark) with NAEP proficient, which guarantees that most students will fail. We have heard the many criticisms, but we have seldom heard a strong defense of the standards.

In this post, Bill Honig explains why the Common Core standards have won broad support in California. Bill was state superintendent of California in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is a personal friend. California has not yet implemented the testing that has proved so upsetting to students, parents, and educators in other states. Will California be…

View original post 2,603 more words


  1. wgersen says:

    Good points, Bill! I share your guarded optimism about how CA might be able to turn the tide on the use of assessments as a cudgel, which could easily happen if the SBAM’s are based on NAEP proficiency. My fear is that once the CCSS is in place and the tests are given, the folks who are now opposed to CCSS will use SBAM results as further proof that “schools are failing” and find ways to justify their agenda to expand choice. I think it is important to make certain school board members and parents understand the concept of cut scores so that teachers won’t be beat up when the results are released. Thanks for making this point clearly and concisely!

  2. Jack Blodgett says:

    Though Mercedes Schneider’s response to Bill Honig’s letter is equally long and perhaps too detailed for readers looking for a concise way to figure out what to think about the Common Core, her response merits serious consideration – especially if California is suggested as a “turning point” and “touchstone” in the Common Core debate. If I may:

    • Bill Duncan says:

      I agree about the long and detailed part, Jack, but not about the credibility of Mercedes Schneider’s post. Readers can judge for themselves but I find it over-filled with groundless assertion and self-satisfied rhetoric, like much of the rest of the commentary on the original Ravitch post. Exhibit A on why this debate goes nowhere.

  3. Jack Blodgett says:

    Mercedes’ contextual discussion of the distinctions to be found in California also include a number of points of agreement with Honig, including an orientation toward reform that allows him to concede: “This is not to say that the standards are perfect or that they shouldn’t be continually reviewed and modified as the schools across the country implement them.” In contrast with Honig’s “refreshing” stance (Mercedes’ term), a position of unquestioning allegiance to the CCSS may be the ideal from the perspective of certain obvious agendas, but it will sadly run counter to the culture of collaborative inquiry Honig describes so well in his letter. But as you say, readers can judge for themselves.

  4. Jack Blodgett says:

    Oops, I meant “includes” – second line of my last reply –

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