Our take: The real issue behind the Common Core


When Jason Stricker and I founded Insight in 2000, our mission was clear and simple: to help educators transition to and implement standards-based instruction for greater student achievement.

That was almost 15 years ago – long before the Common Core.

But today we are deep in the Common Core reform, because we see our mission in the Standards – and because we know educators need support to make it happen.

That’s why Marc Tucker’s recent post about the real issues behind the Common Core caught my attention. Despite the criticisms that we’re surely all familiar with, he’s optimistic that the Standards will persist. But to get there, Tucker notes, “Almost everything has to change.”

And he’s right. The promise of the Common Core is to give students what they need to succeed in the world, but that won’t happen unless teachers first have what they need to succeed in the classroom.

Unfortunately, controversy often clouds that point.  

As Tucker put it, “The Common Core is far more likely to be declared a failure by the general public because the states failed to implement it well than it is likely to be the victim of the attacks of current critics from either the right or the left.”

Perhaps the hardest part about change in education is that it can never happen overnight. The Common Core standards certainly weren’t intended to be implemented quickly – or even easily. That’s why I talk about the Common Core as a marathon, not a sprint, and why our work in districts and schools is based around building sensible implementation plans that will stick.

The real issue behind the Common Core, or any educational reform, is not about politics or personal interest – it’s about making sure teachers and school leaders are ready and supported throughout implementation. 

District and school leaders, here are four questions to help you determine your teachers' readiness for the Common Core:

  1. What type of training have your teachers received on the Standards and the instructional shifts?

  2. Do you have a clear picture of both short- and long-term objectives?

  3. Is your implementation plan clearly and consistently communicated with teachers?

  4. Do you fully understand the implications of assessments and feel prepared to communicate expectations to teachers?

I’m excited by the potential of the college and career ready standards to provide an education that will truly prepare ALL students.  And I am optimistic that we can move through this challenging time for the sake of our students to really do the work that matters.

For more, check out Implementation of the Common Core State Standards: A Transition Guide for School-Level Leaders, which we developed in partnership with the Aspen Institute and several other leading organizations to help you successfully implement the Standards in your district or school.


Dr. Michael Moody is the Founder and CEO of Insight Education Group. His experiences as a classroom teacher, school and district administrator and consultant have given him a unique perspective on both the challenges and opportunities in education today. Contributing regularly to the blog, Michael is always excited to start or join a conversation about helping educators grow. 

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