Jim Spillane Comments on Common Core Controversies

Jim Spillane Comments on Common Core Controversies

James SpillaneProfessor James Spillane is the co-author of the book Challenging Standards, which helps education leaders navigate controversy as they implement testing standards in schools. Spillane speaks about the ongoing debate over Common Core, including the decision by some states to drop the standards altogether.

Spillane is an education professor in the School of Education and Social Policy and faculty associate in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern.

For example, Spillane offers these comments related to current issues about Common Core.

 On Missouri becoming the latest state to ditch Common Core standards:
“This is all smoke and mirrors — they reject Common Core but basically keep the same state standards with a different label and language. It’s an amazing but very good lesson on educational policymaking in the U.S.”

On the Common Core firestorm:
“It has become a political football and on which players from different teams can play their various value cards. And, in very interesting ways, it may suggest something of a fascinating political coalition (at least tacitly) between some on the right and some on left of the political spectrum. Also, Common Core has become another part of the never-ending effort to undermine the Obama presidency. When the history of the last decade is written, one core theme will be the ongoing effort to undermine the first black president.”

At Northwestern, Spillane is the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change at the School of Education and Social Policy. He is also professor of Human Development and Social Policy, professor of learning sciences, professor of management and organizations.

Challenging Standards grew out of a 2014 conference sponsored by the American Education Research Association that explored the policy and politics of the Common Core standards. Spillane also builds on his own research connected to education reform standards of the past. His 2004 book Standards Deviation was based on an in-depth study of nine Michigan districts in the early 1990s that found wide variations in how teachers interpreted and applied state standards.

Major sections of Challenging Standards address implementation in schools and systems, enactment in classrooms, building systems capacity through relationships and navigating politics. Spillane and co-editor Jonathan Supovitz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, say that the perennial problem with education standards is bridging the gap between idealistic goals and actual classroom practice. The book offers education leaders the perspectives of 20 experts.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/11/16