Adopted in August of 2010 by the state, Common Core came to California with the backing of almost everyone. Followed up with $1.25 billion from the state to implement the standards, California has become a great example of how successful the Core could have been if other states had brought it in correctly.
One of the biggest hindrances with the Core has been its use as a way to drive teacher accountability. While other states used it as such far too soon – a move that sparked outrage – California’s governor, Jerry Brown, knew that more time was needed. Instead of linking the new standardized tests to teacher proficiency, Brown remained firm in his stance that he would not do so, even if that meant not being able to apply for the funds possible through the Race to the Top program.
This slow adaptation also meant the state didn’t actually begin implementation until two years following their formal adoption of the Core. Oddly enough, the state has faced criticism for such a delay even though this very move is what has led to the current state of teacher and parent acceptance of the Core.
This past year, the Smarter Balanced test was administered. Created by California and other states on a governing council, the Smarter Balanced is the new standardized test that use the Core standards to find out how students are faring. Due to its hotly debated place within the country’s educational community, parents are allowed to opt their children out of the test. The 1% of the entire state’s student population to opt out speaks volumes in regards to how successful the state has been with implementation. This is especially true when compared to New York where a staggering 20% of students opted out.
Even so, the 1% does speak to small collections of dissenters, with the majority of them coming from affluent families. While this may seem questionable, the reason is simply that the students themselves didn’t want to waste any time studying for a new exam when they were already focusing hard on getting good SAT scores.
Proponents praise California for their slow approach to the Core, citing the reserved steps as the reason why the state is succeeding in light of so many other failures across the nation. Instead of handing teachers brand new curriculum and wishing them the best of luck, the entire state is unified and understands what is expected. Governor Brown is even proposing the state provide schools with more money to further see to the continuing implementation of the Core.
While the state does still face challenges, its steadfast belief in slow adoption is what has led to such resounding success in a state much larger than the other states that are seeing failure. As many teachers would say, patience is a virtue.