Indiana’s Common Core Rewrite

Indiana’s Common Core Rewrite
February 26, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly #27

Indiana is in the process of reshaping Common Core into something state leaders desperately want to call “Indiana standards,” because that’s what they’ve promised thousands of concerned moms and dads. Whether what comes out is actually as academically rich as Indiana’s previous standards or simply warmed-over Common Core is yet to be seen.

The grassroots is quite suspicious of the process, and with good reason. As Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle, the laser-sharp moms spearheading Hoosiers Against Common Core, have discovered, the state-selected panels to write and evaluate a new set of English and math standards appear to be “a stacked deck.” Some highlights:

  • Fifteen of the 29 members of the standards’ evaluation panel have publicly declared their support for Common Core, some of them literally representing national Common Core tests in Indiana. Only one has publicly taken a stand against Common Core.
  • Eight people sit on both the panel to choose standards and the second panel that evaluates the chosen standards, letting them serve as judge and jury of their own work. Further, seven of these people are among the 15 that have publicly supported Common Core.
  • The standards the panels reviewed were limited to Common Core, the state’s last set of draft standards, and often-discredited models from national math and English teacher associations. They did not consider international standards or those from well-regarded states like California and Massachusetts.

The new set of draft standards is making the rounds this week, as the state holds three public hearings to discuss them. Citizens are allowed three minutes each to comment on the standards at these hearings and are limited to discussing specific standards only.

But do not worry. The state asked Sujie Shin, of WestEd, to review the standards rewrite, and she says it “is the deepest she has observed and will be recommending Indiana’s process as a best practice for other states reexamining Common Core,” wrote state board of education member Brad Oliver in an open letter. WestEd is a quasi-governmental organization that happens to financially profit from Common Core as a contractor for national Common Core tests.

A preliminary review of the draft math standards by Hoover Institution fellow Ze’ev Wurman concludes “this draft did not focus strongly enough on improving the glaring weaknesses of Common Core standards but instead made minor (and sometime negative) changes, and piled a whole lot of new content on top of [the] already massive Common Core. The draft is more bloated than the Common Core, and immeasurably more bloated than the 2009 Indiana draft.”

The news is not all negative. The standards may still be changed, and Oliver’s latest news is that the state department of education has engaged prominent content experts Sandra Stotsky and R. James Milgram to provide an independent review of the drafts. Their world-class knowledge and experience in their respective fields of content standards, former positions as the only content experts on Common Core’s final evaluation committee, and bold proclamations against Common Core ever since mean the grassroots trusts Stotsky and Milgram’s judgment.

It will be interesting to see what they have to say, and whether anything changes as a result.

SOURCE: Hoosiers Against Common Core


School Choice Roundup

  • NORTH CAROLINA: A judge blocks the state’s new voucher program pending resolution of a union-driven lawsuit against it. More than 4,000 low-income children already had signed up to exercise their education options under the new law and will wait in limbo as the case moves forward.
  • KANSAS: Lawmakers propose tax-credit scholarships. If passed, this would be the first private school choice law in the state. It would be funded by a 70 percent tax credit for corporations that donate to scholarship-granting nonprofit organizations.

Common Core Watch

Education Today

Same Problem as Math Curriculum

Cartoon by John Deering and John Newcombe, Zack Hill at

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Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)