Common Core and NCLB are dysfunctional approaches to education.

Reginald Grant " A Case for Bilingual Education. A Teacher's View." Available September 2015
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Common Core and NCLB are dysfunctional approaches to education.

Excerpt from the new book by Reginald Grant " A Case for Bilingual Education. A Teacher's View."

I believe that the grand ideas behind both Common Core and NCLB were just poorly executed. This execution has hurt our educational system and the students it was created to serve. Teachers, administrators and everyone involved with the educational system are overwhelmed. Everyone is looking at the test results as the outcome not the improvement of critical thinking and personal development of our students. Most teachers’ primary goals are to help students to improve academically and become well adjusted contributing members of society. The dysfunctional nature of all of this is influenced by the billions of dollars the publishers like NCS Pearson, Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin’s Riverside Publishing are making off both Common Core and NCLB. It’s the old adage “ the root of all evil is money.” Our government has implemented poorly written and poorly executed plans to improve our educational system and have failed miserably. I’m not against national standards, and a common set of goals but these two programs are prime examples of how big government so often get’s it wrong. 1

The basic assumption of both is that every child learns and develops at the same rate. This is simply a crazy approach and every parent on the planet knows that, children are individuals and grow, adapt, learn and mature at different rates.  There is no such thing as a homogeneous group of 11th graders, 7th graders or kindergartners’. They all bring different sets of experiences, backgrounds, skills and cannot be educated in assembly line fashion. America is built on the premise that “you are in charge of your own destiny and can shape and mold who and what you become.” These programs fly smack into the face of that presumption. We have seen this approach over and over again in the past and each time it has failed miserably. Why are we repeating the same old bad habits under new names and to the detriment of our children? Test should be a measuring tool, yes I said tool not an end all be all, and they should be used to guide instruction and student improvement

Learning is a continuous, integrated and ongoing process, we need to embrace what the research has shown us. Use testing as a measuring stick, stop making the testing companies rich and elevate the skills and development of our students. We have known for decades what actually works, but are too quick to let political agendas and economics impact the process. Cole’s (2008) research indicates that we know how to educate children of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and social economic backgrounds at high levels. Yet, the nation as a whole has not acted upon that knowledge. “White Americans increasingly reject injustice in principle, but remain reluctant to accept the measures necessary to eliminate the injustice” T/F. Pettigrew, (1979).3 We need to reclaim our position as the education and innovation leader and stop implementing programs that impede that goal. I am a capitalist and not against any one making a legal dollar, but not at the expense of our future. We need to embrace the individually of our students with their immense diversity and ability to innovate. ”IP” intellectual property is the most valuable commodity on the planet in this new paradigmof technology and American needs to be proactive , both Common Core and NCLB are reactive programs. 

Both Common Core and NCLB have had dramatic negative effects on ESL’s and SEL’s because of their poor implementation. The fact is that ESL’s need to be initially assessed in their primary language to give us a true baseline for improvement or lack of improvement. We should not be penalizing districts and schools who are already underserved, underfunded and all too often lack highly qualified teachers. We need to devise a system that helps educators help our students. Instead we have created a “teach to the test” mentality and punish teachers, schools and the students for things outside of their control.

There are several key elements that are different between NCLB and Common Core/Race to the Top.

1. Accountability; in NCLB the accountability is placed on school districts and schools based on student scores. With Common Core burden is placed on teachers and this element varies widely from state to state. Taking into consideration that 45 of the 50 states initially fully adopted the Common Core standards and the percentage of required student progress tied to teacher evaluations’ is applied differently in virtually every state.

2. NCLB was developed by educational professionals and educational organizations and approved through a public process. The Common Core was developed by private (often for profit) organizations and had NO transparency no public comments or input was allowed.

3. Control of the contents for NCLB was placed in the hands of state departments of education and reviewed by educational stake holders. With Common Core everything was secretly developed by private companies, organizations and consultants – No public input was allowed.

4. Scoring is another component of this dysfunctional process that screams at us. With NCLB state departments of education and stake holders determined the passing scores. But, with Common Core here again control was completely out of the hands of the stake holders and public in general.

5. Goals are not in alignment either, with NCLB focused on producing high school graduates. While Common Core is focused on the crazy assumption that every student wants to attend college and the students are evaluated on college readiness.

6. Show Me the Money ! Under NCLB the professional development providers are the big winners. Under Common Core technology companies are the big winners because they will provide equipment and software for 50 million students.

7. In the classroom teachers should be experts but even that concept is addressed differently by the two programs. With NCLB local districts with state oversight ensure subject expertise. But, with Common Core its very ambiguous and embedded under some strange category entitled “teacher effectiveness.” What the hell is that? Also, under Common Core schools that can prove that they have a low percentage of “effective teachers” can have teachers redistributed. Again, Common Core is reflecting its reactive approach and the students will have suffered and then they will address the issue of high qualified teachers. 4

Both Common Core and NCLB are in theory grand concepts that need to be a part of our educational system. We need to adapt and adjust the programs to ensure they actually add value to the educational system and our society. Parents need to be very vigilant about the individual needs of their children and as often noted “Parents involvement is one of the most important elements of a student’s success in school.” Parents need to empower themselves with the tools and knowledge to help their children navigate the educational systems successfully. The system as it exist does not foster individually and empower every student, it’s up to parents to make sure that their child’s needs are being met. Teachers as always are fighting an uphill battle, but you win by having high expectations, helping students to think critically and making sure that your voice is heard.


Hawkins, P., “A Brief History on NCLB and Common Core (Part’s 1 &    2).Http://        common-core_b_5236016.html

Self, N.,”Both NCLB and the Common Core Ignore Student Individuality”.,…re-ignore.html?tkn=QYTFcBcrmrjuK1G25%2BgLxRrLe74RpHtxFe&print=1

Cole, Robert W., (2008) Educating Everybody’s Children: Diverse Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition, Alexandria, VA, The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 

Stotsky,S., “7 Major differences between No Child Left Behind and Common Core/Race to the Top”.,


Excerpt from the new book by Reginald Grant " A Case for Bilingual Education. A Teacher's View." Available September 2015

Reginald Grant, Author & Culturally Inclusive Curriculum Specialist


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