April 12, 2013
Publishers try to make sense of new State Common Core Standards
by Claire Kelley
Trade publishers are scrambling to find ways to take advantage of the new State Common Core Standards, which are being implemented in K-12 schools throughout the country. While they are not federal standards, the Council of Chief State School Officers and state governors started working in 2008 to establish guidelines that will prepare students for college and careers. The standards they developed will be implemented by 46 states over the next two years.
Publishers Weekly hosted a sold-out panel at Random House on Wednesday to discuss the common core and opportunities for publishers. The panelists, including Barbara Stripling, president-elect of ALA and former Director of Library Services at the NYC Department of Education, and Marc Aronson, author and lecturer at Rutgers University, who has travelled the country doing Common Core workshops with teachers. Both were enthusiastically supportive of the standards, saying that they will help students learn to think critically, develop research skills, and that they will help foster the teaching of knowledge, rather than the memorization of facts.
Though Stripling and Aronson are optimistic, the Common Core standards have been the source of some controversy. Critics have questioned the amount of money going towards technology to facilitate extensive testing of students. Right wing groups are calling the standards a move toward centralized education. One of the problems with No Child Left Behind was the sliding scale of tests in various states, and some say the Common Core will have similar issues, since it is not a federal initiative and each state will implement the standards in different ways.
On Wednesday, panelists cautioned publishers who have been eager to get their books adopted and implemented into the curriculum as part of the Common Core. “One thing I noticed is that every publisher came out with catalogs that said our materials are ‘common core aligned,'” Stripling said. “We just knew that couldn’t be the case for every book.” Another panelist, David Liben, who has developed a website called achievethecore.org, emphasized that materials need to be analyzed in order to provide educators with information about how the text can be linked to the standards. Aronson agreed. “The correct language to use is ‘Common Core useful,'” he said, “Not ‘Common Core aligned.'”
Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.