How Common Core Advocates Ignored Early Childhood Experts

Carol Burris, Principal of South Side High School in New York, last week wrote about four “flimflams” in Common Core at The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog run by Valarie Strauss.  Flimflam #1 was this – “The Common Core standards are internationally benchmarked and grounded in research.”

The fact that the Common Core is dataless reform and lacks evidence is a point I hammer a lot.  Burris did a masterful job debunking this particular claim made by advocates.  She brought up a statement from 500 early childhood experts in 2010 who found the early childhood Common Core standards developmentally inappropriate and urged that the standards for grades K-3 be suspended.

If I have encountered this statement before I don’t remember it.  Think about this… 500 pediatricians, researchers and psychologists said these standards were bad for early childhood in a statement in March 2, 2010 and state boards of education still adopted them.

Were board members even aware of this statement?

We know that most were not aware of five members of the Common Core validation committee not signing off, and I’m sure their dissent was glossed over.  How do you ignore this?

The fact that Common Core advocates were warned about the developmental inappropriateness of the early childhood standards by experts in this field and they did nothing.

Perhaps they were like an arrogant college math professor I encountered in eastern Iowa.  They thought they knew best.  They don’t.

Burris notes that one of the few early childhood experts on the team who wrote the literacy standards is now against them.

Dr. Louisa Moats, one of the few early childhood experts on the team that wrote the literacy standards, is now an outspoken critic because the Common Core standards disregard decades of research on early reading development. She began expressing her concerns in 2012 in a paper entitled “Reconciling the Common Core State Standards with Reading Research” which can be found here. In it, Moats describes the Common Core as a “political (and philosophical) compromise” which reflects contemporary ideas, not reading research. She is not alone in her critique. Researchers Hiebert and Sluys also among other researchers who have expressed concerns about the consequences of the premises and practices embedded in the Common Core…

She then added.

So where is the research to support: close reading, increased Lexile levels, the use of informational texts and other questionable practices in the primary grades? During our recent Intelligence Squared debate on the Common Core the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli told the audience he “spent the big part of the weekend talking to some reading experts.” When I later asked Mr. Petrilli for the evidence of the research on Common Core reading methods he said, “Well, I will be happy to go find it for you after this debate.” I am still waiting.

Petrilli did eventually reply, but gave “evidence” which a reading expert said was not something educators would deem to be research.  Ouch.

Just so you can read them for yourself, here are some examples from the Common Core Kindergarten standards that are clearly developmentally inappropriate.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.OA.A.3 (Kindergarten Operations & Algebraic Thinking)

Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).


For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.NBT.A.1 (Number & Operations in Base 10)

Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.8 (Informational Text)

With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.


Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).


Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.


Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1 Speaking & Listening

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.


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