Clear, Common Understandings

The Iowa Department of Education has defended the Iowa Core by saying that “The standards give students, parents, and teachers a clear, common understanding of what students need to learn at every grade level.”

This presupposes 1) that students and parents actually read the standards (and as Chris noted on KCRG today, there are over 400 pages of them) and 2) that if students, parents, and teachers all read the standards, that we will all agree upon what they mean; that the standards are clear and unambiguous.

I am guessing that few parents, and even fewer students, have read the Iowa Core standards.

Even if we read the standards, it isn’t at all clear that we will come to a common understanding of them. One of the criticisms I have seen in the national Common Core debate is that the standards are open to interpretation. Will they be interpreted to require reform math? To require government publications at the expense of crowding out fiction and poetry in high school English courses? To devalue content at the expense of a skills-focused approach?