Education organizations who staunchly support the Common Core State Standards issued an open letter via the Learning First Alliance earlier this month outlining their belief that a moratorium on the high stakes associated with the Common Core effort should be enacted for a period not shorter than one year. The coalition members include groups like the American Association of School Administrators, the American School Counselor Association, the International Society for Technology in Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the National School Boards Association and the National Parent Teacher Association.

VOCABULARY 180The moratorium on consequences of high-stakes tests was first urged by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in April. Because teachers have not had time to properly absorb and create curriculum around the standards, he said, it’s unfair for students to already be taking high-stakes tests aligned to those standards. High stakes associated with test results include whether students can graduate from high school or move from grade to grade, and how much teachers are paid and whether they lose their jobs.

A moratorium has been opposed by Chiefs for Change, a group of former and current state education superintendent that was formed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush to advocate and implement standardized-test-based school reforms.

Here’s the open letter:

Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:

The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.

To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes providing the pre-service and professional learning opportunities educators need to effectively teach the standards, making necessary adaptations to implementation plans as work progresses and field-testing efforts to ensure proper alignment – will take time.

Rushing to make high-stakes decisions such as student advancement or graduation, teacher evaluation, school performance designation, or state funding awards based on assessments of the Common Core standards before the standards have been fully and properly implemented is unwise. We suggest a transition period of at least one year after the original deadline in which results from assessments of these standards are used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core. Removing high-stakes consequences for a short time will ensure that educators have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students focus on learning, and parents and communities focus on supporting children.

During this time, we urge a continued commitment to accountability. We recommend that states and districts continue to hold educators and schools to a high standard as determined by the components of their accountability systems that are not solely based on standardized tests, including other evidence of student learning, peer evaluations, school climate data and more.

We have seen growing opposition to the Common Core as officials move too quickly to use assessments of the Common Core State Standards in high-stakes accountability decisions. Such actions have the potential to undermine the Common Core – and thus our opportunity to improve education for all students. We must take the necessary time to ensure we succeed in this endeavor.

Cheryl S. Williams

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