Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation urges delay for Common Core actions

BY Elizabeth Jones  June 11, 2014 at 3:42 PM EST
Video still by PBS NewsHour

Video still by PBS NewsHour

One of the most ardent supporters of the Common Core education guidelines, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is urging participating states to delay major accountability decisions based on assessment tests aligned to the standards.

The foundation’s director of education, Vicki Phillips, suggested in an open letter released Tuesday that significant actions tied to the testing, such as teacher evaluation and student promotion, be pushed back by two years.

“…no evaluation system will work unless teachers believe it is fair and reliable, and it’s very hard to be fair in a time of transition,” Philips wrote. “The standards need time to work. Teachers need time to develop lessons, receive more training, get used to the new tests and offer their feedback.”

Since 2010, 46 states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core State Standards, which are benchmarks in mathematics and English language arts, outlining what skills a student should have at the end of each grade.

But some teachers’ unions and parent groups have complained that the standards have been rolled out too quickly. In fact, implementation issues and other concerns have prompted three states — Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — to drop Common Core this year. Lawmakers in several other states, including Florida, Illinois and South Dakota, have introduced legislation reassessing their involvement with the both the standards and related tests.

According to a recent article published in the Washington Post, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was not only the primary funder behind the development of the Common Core, but also “built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.”

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