Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

An Open Letter on the Common Core Transition

Cheryl S. Williams's picture

The Learning First Alliance has sent an open letter to education stakeholders recommending a transition period in Common Core implementation. Fifteen of our member organizations joined together to suggest that for at least one year after the original deadline, the results from assessments of the Common Core State Standards be used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core.

By removing high-stakes consequences from these assessments during the transition to them, educators will have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students can focus on learning, and parents and communities can focus on supporting children.

Download the letter, or read it below.


June 6, 2013


Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:

The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.

To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes providing the pre-service and professional learning opportunities educators need to effectively teach the standards, making necessary adaptations to implementation plans as work progresses and field-testing efforts to ensure proper alignment – will take time.

Rushing to make high-stakes decisions such as student advancement or graduation, teacher evaluation, school performance designation, or state funding awards based on assessments of the Common Core standards before the standards have been fully and properly implemented is unwise. We suggest a transition period of at least one year after the original deadline in which results from assessments of these standards are used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core. Removing high-stakes consequences for a short time will ensure that educators have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students focus on learning, and parents and communities focus on supporting children.

During this time, we urge a continued commitment to accountability. We recommend that states and districts continue to hold educators and schools to a high standard as determined by the components of their accountability systems that are not solely based on standardized tests, including other evidence of student learning, peer evaluations, school climate data and more. 

We have seen growing opposition to the Common Core as officials move too quickly to use assessments of the Common Core State Standards in high-stakes accountability decisions. Such actions have the potential to undermine the Common Core – and thus our opportunity to improve education for all students. We must take the necessary time to ensure we succeed in this endeavor.

Cheryl S. Williams
Executive Director
Learning First Alliance


American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)
American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council)
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
National Education Association (NEA)
National School Boards Association (NSBA)
National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)
Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)
National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

I think that the schools

I think that the schools should be responsible for using community resources to provide the best possible educational experiences for the students. However, becoming an educated person is the student’s accomplishment.
I think we should be doing research to see why some students make perfect scores on all their tests, why “failing schools” tend to be poor schools, why some children are more responsible than others, why some are able to concentrate better than others. If the same teacher teaches some advanced and some learning disabled students are her results always the same for both groups? Why does one child find sports, music, or reading easy while another excels at math or science?
I think we should be getting away from the standardized tests. They prove that an achievement gap exists but they don’t show how to improve achievement. The standardized tests just penalize further the students who need help the most and the teachers who are trying to help them.

Change is very difficult,

Change is very difficult, especially big changes in educational philosophy, and new and often nebulous standards.

Even the very best ideas should be implemented wisely and in a reasonable time frame. Mindless change with no regard to teacher or student is sure to create as many problems as it could hope to solve.

A better way is clearly needed to give all students an opportunity to attain the best education possible for them. Standards, lessons based on the standards, and test to determine that standards have been met must be part of an integrated program. To issue standards and then develop haphazard evalution of teacher performance and student performance is clearly a recipe for disaster.

Teachers are the key to this important new educational transition. To discourage or humiliate teachers will cause the entire program to surely fail. Teachers must be involved in all aspects of this change so that they have a positive stakehold and buy-in in such a way that the significant effort is meaningful and purposeful to teachers. This approach will greatly improve the necessary steps to implement this bold new initiative.

Retired, but still and educator.

I have read many of the Core

I have read many of the Core Curriculum standards and my comment,in short, is that the wording of many standards are so poorly constructed that they would be impossible to use as reliable and valid quality controls. The language is more than vague and because of that, it will be impossible to determine whether a student, teacher, school system, or the nation has met the mark.
I can go into detail, but this is not the place or space to do that. Another subtopic is whether we are outsourcing the educational process to corporate for-profit entities and, if so, whether there will be conflicts of interest such as exaggerating the success of the curricular changes as measured with evaluations also provided by the same or shell companies.

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