We’ve all heard that Massachusetts is head and shoulders above other states when it comes to their standards. It is generally accepted that they have the most rigorous standards in the country. Their state board of education said as much in March when it came to adopting the Common Core standards – they were too weak and would be a downgrade from Massachusetts current standards. Thus, it comes as a surprise to find that Massachusetts’s Commissioner of Secondary and Elementary Education, Mitchell Chester, has endorsed the new standards and recommended that the state adopt them. Initially, Chester was wary of them. He worried that they would be a downgrade. Now, after spending time analyzing them, he says they’re better than even Massachusetts’s high standards. He’s not the only one, either. Today, two former MA Education Commissioners have put their weight behind the switch. Robert Antonucci and David Driscoll called the standards “an advancement over our already strong Massachusetts standards.”
The kicker is the timing. The Board of Elementary Education is meeting tomorrow to discuss whether to adopt the Common Core with a vote due on Wednesday. What seemed like a long-shot after the release of the preliminary draft of the standards seems to have gained traction with the view that the bar was raised with the final version in June. Last year, if you would have asked most experts, they would have thought Massachusetts would’ve stuck with their plan, maintaining the system because of its effectiveness. The state has consistently topped the country in its NAEP scores and even ranks high globally. There are some calling the decision to switch to the new standards foolish, but there is a good chance the first step toward adopting the Common Core standards will be occur this week.
If Massachusetts decides to go through with the adoption, there will be little for any state to say in the matter. With the clear leader joining the pack, states like Virginia will have a hard time arguing that their standards are too good to be “downgraded.”