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Volume 27, Number 4
July/August 2011

The Common Core State Standards

Challenges for assessment


Our nation is currently caught up in an enormous educational challenge: to see whether the vast majority of our states cannot only adopt identical curriculum standards in mathematics and English language arts (ELA) but also devise suitable instructional and assessment systems linked to those standards. Because these assessments will most likely become the accountability tests routinely used in evaluating the success of most U.S. schools, the impact of these tests on American education is potentially enormous.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), produced at the initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors’ Association, have been adopted by all but a few states. Currently, two assessment consortia, each composed of several dozen states, have received substantial federal funding to create assessments that can determine the degree to which students have mastered the intended learning outcomes embodied in the CCSS. These outcomes—the knowledge and skills the CCSS authors believe students should achieve as a result of schooling—can be labeled content standards, instructional targets, or, as I will call them here, curricular aims.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

W. J. Popham. Unlearned Lessons: Six Stumbling Blocks to Our Schools’ Success, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2009.

W. J. Popham. “Exposing the Imbalance in ‘Balanced Assessment.’” Evidence-Based Education (Spring 2011): 14–15.