Saturday, December 3, 2016

Change Is Not Always Progress

A while ago, I wrote on my other blog about Oklahoma's loudly touted plan to rip up the Common Core Standards and create their own. At the time, I wrote:
My feeling is that the process is and always was the same when it came to the creation of standards, and the more Oklahoma closes its eyes and pretends not to look at anyone else's standards, the more its will resemble everyone else's. 
Well, I read recently that any Republican revision of the Affordable Care Act is likely to look just like the Affordable Care Act, since there are only so many directions in which one can go when dealing with health insurance and the private sector. So I thought I'd take a look at how Oklahoma fared in its "By Oklahomans for Oklahomans" revision.

Luckily, I didn't have to do any work at all, because it turns out that Achieve has already done a side-by-side analysis. Granted, Achieve, as a partner in the Common Core, comes at this with a built-in bias, but then again, so do I. And they have a lot more people who can sit and parse standards phraseology, down to missing punctuation(!).

Whereas I expected the OK standards to duplicate the CCSS with altered wording, Achieve found instead that they represented a reactionary return to earlier "mile wide and inch deep" state standards, lacking in rigor, focus, coherence, and specificity, albeit offering reasonable clarity/accessibility and measurability. There is still plenty of overlap, as you can see in the side-by-side ELA or math documents. It's not as though Oklahoma suddenly came up with a brilliant new way to teach Oklahomans to read—but then, the point was never really about teaching or learning.

It's a huge report, fascinating only to those of us who deal with learning standards in our daily lives, but perhaps suggestive of what happens when you try to redo, at enormous expense and for political reasons, a fairly decent plan that was done at enormous expense and with good intentions. To me, it highlights the thoughtfulness that went into the original plan.

I am relatively sure that legislators and parents and even educators who were unhappy with what they perceived as the federalizing of Oklahoma standards will not read the report and will sleep contentedly in their beds, satisfied that the new standards represent all that Oklahomans require. I am equally sure that if Republicans uproot and reconfigure Obamacare, many will just be glad for the change, whatever it might be. The cost may be up front. The damage, if it occurs, will happen down the road.

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