The Council of chief state school officers instituted the common core state standards Initiative (CCSSI) to provide clear academic standards for knowledge and skills acquisition for promoting career readiness in learners. CCSS was implemented due to low student transition rates from high school into college and work environment. Therefore, CCSS targeted curriculum designs for P-20 which covers pupils at preschool to university levels. Implementation of CCSS followed traditional, digital, and hybrid models. The traditional model would retain the use of hardcopy textbooks and paper-based assessments. However, digital platforms would encourage the utilization of open-source instructional materials available online, however, hybrid models are suitable for states that are ill-equipped for digital transformations or struggle with inadequate funds to avail instructional content online. Standards-based education reforms seek to improve academic performance by aligning content standards with future career opportunities. Protecting academic freedom is vital in ensuring academic performance among students where school principals encourage altering of teaching techniques to meet the requirements of the state-adopted Common Core.
Academic freedom is outlined in the first amendment to protect institutions from legal action. State laws provide legal protection against illegitimate interferences based on contractual agreements between educators and their institution of practice. Traditionally, ideological conflicts triggered a need for protection among teachers against wrongful dismissal from school administration due to conflicting or unpalatable views on instructional content. Therefore, the declaration of principles on academic freedom and academic tenure protects teachers in three areas freedom of inquiry, freedom to teach, and freedom of extramural utterances (Davydova, 2019). Teachers enjoy academic freedom from federal laws, academic customs, and institutional autonomy. For example, federal constitutional laws ensure freedom of speech among teachers in cases where political climates in a country determine the expectations towards teacher evaluation programs. Federal policies require support from principals implementing practices that steer institutions towards attaining outcome-based performance during periods of transition. Institutional autonomy creates an atmosphere where teachers have the freedom to engage in experimentation. School administrators ensure academic freedom by giving teachers legal protection from political interference.
School administrators have bestowed the power of ensuring academic freedom when determining pedagogical models used in an institution. For example, teaching literary non-fiction might incorporate common core reading requirements such as visual media to ensure college readiness among high school students. Therefore, pre-service teacher education programs challenge educators to rethink the pedagogies used in learning. For example, teacher assessments pupil learning (TAPL) helps educators incorporate perceptions in promoting social justice among culturally diverse learners (Kooiman et al., 2018). Teachers can critique curriculum knowledge to incorporate critical thinking, problem-solving, and cross-cultural debates (Davenport, 2021). The introduction of value-added models to teacher evaluation practices incorporates feedback from teachers on interventions toward student achievement such as class size or instructional time. Educators have the freedom to make decisions concerning instructional content instead of focusing on scripted curricula. Self-regulation means professionals in the education sector give their input on acceptable practices within their fields. Autonomy means teachers’ opinions are trusted as custodians and teachers collaborate in designing curriculums and instructional materials that meet learners’ varying needs.
School principals who promote academic freedom create an environment of critical thinking which a vital skill for democratic participation is. Therefore, teachers are given the freedom of scholarly advocacy in selecting ideas to include in course content. Freedom to teach defines curriculum choices, pedagogical methodologies, and instructional content used to help students master lessons (Kooiman et al., 2018). For example, inquiry-based science incorporates practices to enhance students’ critical thinking. Learners’ engagement in instructional content comes from sense-making that challenges naïve conceptualizations of their environments into scientific arguments and conceptions. Teaching practices include formulating explanations, arguing using evidence, applying models, and designing solutions. Therefore, learners who argue from evidence incorporate mental and diagrammatic models to streamline their thought process on a phenomenon. Model-based explanations incorporate evidence such as data, facts, and statistics in arguments (Maxwell, Waddington, & McDonough, 2019). Therefore, critical reasoning prioritizes formulating conclusive arguments and intellectual pluralism to enhance learning. Teachers have the freedom to present favorable or unfavorable opinions to students without fear of silencing from school administrators in the face of competing interests.
School principals should ensure common core standards follow free market dynamics that shape modern educational practices. A free national education market promoted by CCSS minimized public scrutiny and political interferences by introducing standards that bypass state-level representative bodies. For example, CCSS standards introduced a neo-liberal market for education business by removing state and local control (Gosselin & Rosen, 2022). Managerial practices promote partnerships with competent experts in the private sector and non-profit industry who provide services such as curriculum design and test makers. For example, the entrepreneurial focus has led to the improvement of digital education governance through the introduction of gamification and computer adaptive testing. Online games are supplanting traditional education processes by delivering content and personalized instructions to accrediting bodies. Therefore, competition is enhanced in the education sector as private entities offer high-quality products to enhance learners’ academic achievement. The standards-based reforms contributed to students’ learning progression, leading to performance outcomes in hierarchical subjects such as English literacy.
School administrators enjoy the right to academic freedom through the introduction of a national ranking system that promotes accountability in institutions. CCSS introduced tools such as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) as high-stakes standardized tests for measuring the quality of curriculums and instructional materials (Buzick et al., 2019). Tests govern curriculum design, teaching pedagogies, and classroom practices. Test writers from the standards writing teams were placed in managerial positions to ensure teachers meet school evaluation policies outlined in the CCSS assessment criteria. For example, value-added models use statistical methods to tie student performance measures to predicted outcome targets and teacher performance. Annual performance measures such as merit pay consider student achievement data in the evaluations. A school culture that focuses on performance measures ensures teachers implement autonomy in classroom practices to enhance productivity and excellence. Calculative technologies help school management visualize activities required to meet performance measures by assessing deviations from the norm.
Critics argue that CCSS inhibits academic freedom by asserting the right to exclude certain types of content that trigger dissenting views or controversy. Authorities believe that information flow from scholars requires regulation to minimize exposing learners to radicalization from ideological messages based on firm beliefs from teachers (Kooiman et al., 2018). However, School administrators are instrumental in ensuring academic freedom is protected by promoting rights to freedom of expression as outlined in CCSS. The role of school principals is to minimize academic freedoms that violate human rights principles those results in legal suits such as harassment. Academic freedom defines teaching standards that align with professional standards. For example, the 1940 statement on academic freedom tenure notes that teachers should avoid controversial topics which trigger vilification from public authorities (Maxwell, Waddington, & McDonough, 2019). Implementing informal controls ensure teachers do not use classrooms as platforms to present ideological differences to learners. For example, intellectual integrity standards seek to minimize learners’ indoctrination. Moreover, academic institutions follow speech codes that bar faculty from discussing subjects relating to race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Promoting academic freedom ensures teachers have the freedom to express their expertise and knowledge on a subject without fear of censorship. Academic freedom comes from the application of legislative standards in monitoring the logical progression of students in subjects such as English literacy subjects, and arts. Freedom of expression is an essential pillar in promoting the right to education by enhancing the right to action such as conducting research and experimentation. Institutions are permitted to produce knowledge by allowing students to receive, seek, and gather information using lawful avenues. The classes of protected speech include written and spoken words (Jamil, 2020). Article 10 protects the form in which ideas are expressed to audiences through poetry to radio broadcasts. Moreover, the satirical presentation of information to students that incorporates distortions of reality during social commentaries is permitted under the law. Therefore, academic freedom is meant to enhance professional autonomy where teachers are accountable to the public for student outcomes. For example, integrating culturally relevant instructional content addresses barriers to education among students from disadvantaged communities. Teachers are given room to implement their understanding of teaching pedagogies rather than following strict pacing and content outlines.
School principals are instrumental in maintaining academic freedom during the transition period of changing teaching techniques in an institution to meet requirements outlined in common core state standards. School principals governing autonomous schools are held accountable for student performance using evidence-based teaching practices. Therefore, federal regulations might force a change in teaching techniques to ensure performance evaluations inform interventions in instruction design such as rigorous instruction that following best practices. Therefore, school administrators play a vital role in protecting academic freedoms among teachers during the tenure period to meet performance measures outlined by academic institutions. Academic freedom ensures schools engage in activities aimed at the production of knowledge without unreasonable interference. Job protection defines professional conduct when determining violations of employment contracts, discipline, and dismissal issues.
Buzick, H. M., Rhoad‐Drogalis, A., Laitusis, C. C., & King, T. C. (2019). Teachers’ Views of Their Practices Related to Common Core State Standards‐Aligned Assessments. ETS Research Report Series, 2019(1), 1-18. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ets2.12277
Davenport, S. (2021). Teachers’ Perceptions of Self-Regulated Learning in a Technology-Supported Collaborative Learning Environment (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University). https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=12054&context=dissertations
Davydova, N. O. (2019). Student academic freedom: The experience in Ukraine and the USA. The Asian International Journal of Life Sciences. https://repository.ndippp.gov.ua/bitstream/handle/765432198/381/4983-Davydova%20et%20al-ALS-21%281%29-2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Gosselin Jr, M. J., & Rosen, S. M. (2022). Teaching in Neoliberal Times: How Teachers Make Decisions in the Context of Markets, Managerialism, and Performativity (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania). https://www.proquest.com/openview/6f98d011bd0f7c7bc0148c0b4aecbd78/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
Jamil, S. (2020). Journalism for sustainable development: The imperative of journalists’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information for promoting sustainable development in Pakistan. Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies, 9(3), 271-291. DOI: 10.1386/ajms_00016_1
Kooiman, B., Wesolek, M., Kim, H., Li, W. (2018). Common Core State Standards: Opportunities, Challenges and a Way Forward. International Journal of Arts and Social Science: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333223392
Maxwell, B., Waddington, D. I., & McDonough, K. (2019). Academic freedom in primary and secondary school teaching. Theory and research in education, 17(2), 119-138. DOI: 10.1177/1477878519862543