We need a system that isn't based on doing well on NAEP and PISA, but in which students are able to actually develop a love for learning. Being able to adapt and learn more and newer skills is the world our students live in and will continue to live in.
This idea is based on the notion that what students are asked to know and be able to do will remain the same as they are now, and I haven't seen any increased expectations in this regard. Making the Common Core more clear and definitive isn't going to help students develop a love of learning, nor is it going to raise the level of expectations for students in Iowa. It will however, help adults measure how well students can fill out bubble sheets.
Is this the best we can do for kids in Iowa?
I might modify that to say, "Is this the best we can do for kids in America?"
We can work on inputs (e.g., teacher quality, standards) and outputs (e.g., assessment) all we want as educators and policymakers. But until we change the process of what kids do on a day-to-day basis, we will fail to realize the systemic changes we need in our children's learning environments. We must start teaching in a way that helps kids see relevance and helps them actually care about what they're supposed to learn so that they don't just memorize it short-term and then forget it as soon as possible.
We learn what we do. We ignore student boredom and lack of engagement at our peril.