Higher ed is embracing goals of Common Core

August 18, 2014

Jacqueline King

Most attention to the Common Core State Standards has focused on the continued political backlash against the standards and the status of implementation in schools. As we look ahead to next spring when students will take assessments that indicate whether they are on track to college and career readiness, we are seeing some attention begin to focus on the role of higher education (see New America’s paper on this topic and a story from the Hechinger Report). Unfortunately, the takeaway from these sources and others is that higher education has mostly been watching from the sidelines and that it has been difficult in many places for K-12 and higher education to overcome decades of entrenched habits and work productively together.

It would be easy to conclude that greater cooperation (and improved alignment) between K–12 and higher education is “mission impossible,” given the differences in structure and culture between the two sectors. But I have been deeply involved in efforts to create greater academic alignment between K–12 and higher education for almost a decade — first at the American Council on Education and now at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — and I see more reasons for optimism than pessimism. Here’s why.

Jacqueline King has been director, higher education collaboration for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium since 2011. Previously, she spent 15 years at the American Council on Education where she established the ACE Center for Policy Analysis. The original version of this article was published by the New American Foundation.

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