When Kentucky became the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core standards in 2009, America suddenly developed curriculum fever.
Viral “Common Core math problems” baffled parents. Questions of local vs. centralized control lingered in statehouses around the nation. Shortly after forty-one states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core standards, public resistance had reached an all-time high.
Of course, what many people don’t realize is that “standards” of any kind only establish what students should be responsible for learning; they don’t actually dictate what kind of activities or learning experiences help them arrive at that knowledge. Nevertheless, Kentucky legislators ultimately voted to repeal of the controversial standards in 2017 as part of a major education overhaul bill called Senate Bill 1.
You may be thinking that would be a cause for Common Core critics around the Bluegrass to celebrate. Kentucky will be implementing new academic standards next school year, but its “repeal” of Common Core may not be what you’re expecting.
That’s because what we’re replacing Common Core with looks an awful lot like… Common Core.
When Senate Bill 1 was signed into law, it required the Kentucky Department of Education to implement a review of all academic standards in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and health/physical education. Since the bill’s signing in 2017, KDE has been doing that by together teachers and community members, establishing advisory panels, and soliciting feedback on the new Kentucky Academic Standards from the general public. (If you really want to get into the weeds of what that process looked like, you can read about it here.)
However, Senate Bill 1 was only responsible for getting the ball rolling on standards revision; the law only “repealed” the Common Core standards in the sense that it said we had to replace it with something, even if those standards were just copied-and-pasted versions of the old standards. An in many cases, that’s exactly what happened.
For example, check out this 6th grade reading standards from the Common Core, and then compare it to what next year’s standard will be.
Common Core Standard RL.6.1: “Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.”
Kentucky Academic Standard RL.6.1: “Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.”
It’s exactly the same standard, it will just have a new name next year. Here’s another example, this time for mathematics.
Common Core Standard Math Content 8.EE.A.1: “Know and apply the properties of integer exponents to generate equivalent numerical expressions.”
Kentucky Academic Standard KY.8.EE.1: “Know and apply the properties of integer exponents to generate equivalent numerical expressions.”
Again, exactly the same. And that’s true for nearly all of Kentucky’s new standards.
If you don’t believe me, check out Kentucky’s new math standards here, and then compare them to the Common Core math standards here. Then, you can do the same for our new reading and writing standards versus the former as well.
So to all the Common Core haters out there, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Kentucky may have “repealed” the Common Core in a technical sense, but our new standards will leave most things unchanged.