Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Continuing Adventures of a Glasgow Based Researcher and the #CommonCoreStateStandards

Still at the early stages of reading-around a research question: gathering background information and noise, getting a feel for what and who have gone before. My initial thoughts were to ignore the political noise around the CCSS and regard them simply as standards. Dream on. This can't be done because those criticising the standards as standards may have an ideological beef with the CCSS which may (just "may", mind) affect their objectivity. In any case, we need to know the landscapes from which critique originates. 

I spent some of yesterday closely reading Mathis (2010). The year of publication is significant. Things were moving very quickly at that time. Achieve Inc. had been set up by the NGO and "corporate leaders" in 1996, was briefed to prepare CCSS in 2009, and came up with the 500 page document in 2010. There was minimal involvement from public school teachers. There was no trialing whatsoever. Although not issuing from the Federal Government per se, the US Dept for Education (2010) document enforces take-up of the Standards, [that's according to Mathis, I need to read that document closely]. 

In the five years since publication, Mathis has been cited 12 times, 3 of them by Tienken, (who appears to have gotten the phrase "de facto nationalization" from Mathis). Which raised a flag: how "mainstream" are these authors, and how much has ideology influenced their views?  

I include the reference to Platten (2014) to widen the reading. I'm also going to read articles in the two journals I know best: Language Testing and, TESOL Quarterly Review - a journal search yesterday ("common core state standards") showed 5 hits in the former, 18 the latter. 

I might then have a better idea where I'm going with this, but at the moment there appear to be two possibilities: a language tester's nuts-and-bolts examination of the standards as standards; or a CDA of the debate surrounding the CCSS. 

Mathis, W. J. (2010). The “Common Core” Standards Initiative: An Effective Reform Tool? Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved 2015.10.28 from

Platten, A. H. (2014). Meaningful access to the common core for high school students with significant cognitive disabilities. University of Southern California.

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved 2015.10.28 from: