In a new in-depth policy interview, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Common Core’s overall rollout has been “disastrous” but schools and parents shouldn’t give up on it, and shouldn’t allow kids to opt-out of standardized tests.
Clinton said Common Core debuted with a great deal of promise and bipartisan support, but was rushed out without creating specific classroom materials for it, creating a headache for both teachers and parents.
“I think the roll-out was disastrous,” Clinton told Newsday in an interview released Monday night. “I think the way they rolled out the Common Core and the expectation you can turn on a dime… They didn’t even have, as I’m told, they didn’t even have the instructional materials ready. They didn’t have any kind of training programs. Remember a lot of states had developed their own standards and they’d been teaching to those standards. And they had a full industry that was training teachers to understand what was going to be tested. And then along comes Common Core and you’re expected to turn on a dime. It was very upsetting to everybody.”
Despite her comments, Clinton signaled she still generally supported Common Core. In the past, Clinton has done more than support it; during her tenure in the U.S. Senate, she advocated going much further and creating a special national board that would formulate national math and science standards for schools.
While nationalizing education may have been a popular goal for many liberals in the past, the situation is far more muddled now. New York has been the epicenter of efforts to resist Common Core and standardized testing in general by having students simply opt-out of taking tests. More than one in five New York students last year skipped tests, and even more appear to be refusing this year. In some districts on Long Island, over half the student body is refusing to test.
Perhaps hoping to appeal to anti-testing New Yorkers, Clinton also said as president she would seek to reduce the number of standardized tests required by federal law. Currently, students must be testing in math and reading every year for grades 3-8, as well as once in high school.
“I think we need better and fewer tests that are used for what tests should be used for, first and foremost as to how to improve the educational outcomes for individual children, for classes of children, and for schools of children,” Clinton said, though she added she opposed opting out and would encourage her daughter to take any assigned tests. Her remarks followed up on comments made last week by her husband former President Bill Clinton. Bill told a New York audience Hillary wants to slash the number of required tests, perhaps from six back to the three tests that were required back in the 1990s before No Child Left Behind.
That notion could put Hillary at odds with some major Democratic constituencies. Several black and Hispanic activist organizations have been strong advocates for annual tests, claiming they force schools to pay attention to underperforming minority schools and take action to improve them.
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