The most likely scenario is that value-added will undermine the transition to Common Core.  During the next two years, principals and teachers will be urged to abandon the primitive bubble-in mentality, but their jobs will be at risk if they don’t focus on rote instruction for high-stakes NCLB tests.

For instance, my district is putting its discretionary money into two contradictory efforts, leaving almost nothing for the student supports necessary before students in a 90% low income district can meet Common Core standards. One priority is paying consultants to urge teachers to teach for mastery of Common Core.  The problem is that principals and teachers risk termination if they don’t wait two years before starting to teach in that way.  The main priority during the transition is to double-down on “drill and kill” for obsolete End of Instruction EOI tests. The name of the test prep regime, “EOI Boot Camp,” is illustrative.

As long as test-driven accountability persists, the rational approach for administrators is to circle the wagons and blame teachers.  And the worst case scenario for Common Core is likely.  Rather than turning on a dime and allowing the exact opposite type of instruction when the game changes, the chances are that many districts will take the same teach-to-the-lowest common denominator and “juke the stats” mindset to Common Core.

John Thompson via