Home Contact Register Subscribe to the Beacon Login

Thursday, May 08, 2014




During the May 6, 2014 edition of the Jay Thomas radio program from WDAY of Fargo I repeatedly asked North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI) spokesman Dale Wetzel if the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by North Dakota was more than just adopting standards but was it in fact a “systemic” reform of our state’s education system. It is demonstrable that CCSS is about much, much, much, much, much, much, much more than just the standards.

North Dakota is retraining teachers, buying computers, buying software, buying instructional materials, the education bureaucracy is traveling all over, and the college schools of education are ALL being required to align with the CCSS. When pressed repeatedly (at time 23:25 in the YouTube video below), Dale used the line of reasoning that we had always spent money on all of these activities. My point was not that these expenses were anything additional (but close scrutiny may prove to be so), but that now these activities are coordinated toward the specific end of alignment with the CCSS. Dale ultimately denied that the CCSS was the basis of realigning North Dakota's entire education system based on those standards!

Now, in an illuminating but recent development, the supporters of CCSS are “openly” referring to this whole movement as being "systemic reform." A prominent example is that of the Carnegie Corporation who was a primary driver of the systemic education reform attempted during the early 1990’s during the presidency of William Clinton under the banner of Outcomes Based Education (OBE). When it was fully recognized that OBE was mostly about the centralization of education to the U.S. Federal Government it was defunded and the North Dakota legislature ended the experiment. Much Carnegie money is involved in the implementation of CCSS. Now they are very open about the goal, claiming Transformative Change in American Schools.”

In long and complicated passages from numerous samples of literature it is apparent that the proponents of the CCSS see this as systemic change of America’s education system and that it is a change that requires centralization of control. I have though, included below selected passages that are short and succinct in direct statement of the relationship of CCSS and “systemic” reform.

If you listen to the YouTube video above in its’ entirety, it may become apparent that the DPI, and in my opinion the majority of the proponent of CCSS just keep circling back to the standards and seem loath to admit that there is anything more to all of this beyond the standards themselves. Why is that? I will hereby state (and please imprint this in your mind for future reference), that this CCSS business is about much, much, much, much, much, much, much more than just some standards. Interwoven into this whole effort is a systemic shift of power and that power shift may not be to the parent and taxpayers of North Dakota.

And folks, please be nice to Dale Wetzel. He has only been at this job for three weeks and probably has not had the time to warp (not a typo) his mind around this. In real life he is a pretty nice guy. He is just in the unenviable position of having as a job defending and promoting what is arguably a monstrosity. What if that was your job?


“If you like your local control of your schools, you can keep your local control. Period”. – North Dakota DPI, 2014 (not really a quote, but an accurate paraphrase?)




Carnegie’s Cahill Talks Common Core at Askwith Forum

Transformative Change in American Schools,” Michele Cahill, — vice-president for national program and director of urban education at Carnegie Corporation of New York, — spoke to the importance of transformative change and systemic reform within K–12 schools across the nation, focusing largely on Common Core Standards.

“In my opinion, the key to transformational change is to change school-system design,” she said during the presentation. “And we will not be able to reach the Common Core Standards without reshaping primary education.”



Opening up the black box: Common Core as a classroom-level reform

Over the past decade, education reformers have focused the lion’s share of our attention on systemic reform—to the point where conversations about Common Core implementation are often even dominated by how the standards will impact things like state accountability, teacher evaluation, certification, and on.

Of course, those are all important. But if Common Core is really going to “change everything,” we need first and foremost to focus on what these new standards mean for teaching and learning.



Common Core: It's the Biggest Reform You Know Nothing About

The Common Core is the largest systemic reform of American public education in recent history. What started as a collaboration between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to reevaluate and nationalize America’s education standards has become one of the most controversial—and yet, unheard of—issues in the American public.




Kristi Gibbs

The primary purpose underlying standards-based reform, the largest K-12 education policy of the past 20 years, is coherence. Smith and O’Day’s (1991) description of systemic reform identifies instructional coherence as a necessary component for wide-scale educational change. In that vision, coherence referred to rigorous curriculum frameworks linked to instructional practices aligned to assessments of student learning (Smith & O’Day, 1991). Through No Child Left Behind (NCLB), states have adopted their own state standards, created state level assessments linked to the state standards, and believed that teacher instruction has matched the intended standards and assessments. This brief was created to research the alignment of current state standards to the newly written CCSS and identify the impact the alignment or misalignment may have on curriculum practices.




Mapping Formative Assessment Strategies to the Common Core State Standards – Part One

We’ve blogged numerous times on the five core strategies that comprise our formative assessment based teacher professional development program. These five core strategies map nicely to the Common Core State Standards (systemic reform) while impacting the classroom on a daily basis at the student level (classroom reform).



Common Standards Need Common Accountability

That Common Core’s promise as a key solution in advancing systemic reform is only achievable if its standards and goals are linked to — and reinforced by — common accountability systems. It is time for Common Core supporters and the school reform movement as a whole to embrace — and build upon — the strong accountability measures exemplified by the No Child Left Behind Act’s Adequate Yearly Progress provisions.



Misplaced Furor in the Battle over the Common Core

Is implementing Common Core the vital ingredient to ensure the systemic reform for our schools we all want?



Aligning Your Curriculum to the Common Core State Standards

In looking at any work on curriculum alignment and systemic reform, the work and inspiration of Larry Lezotte, Doug Reeves, Mike Schmoker, and Rick Stiggins has to be acknowledged. They are the pioneers, the keepers of the vision, and the giants on whose shoulders I try to stand.




Click here to email your elected representatives.


No Comments Yet

Post a Comment


Upload Image    

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?