I don't think so. I think the way the CCSS were rolled out is the only way they could have been rolled out. Let me 'splain why each of the usual suspects cannot be convicted of the crime of bad CCSS deployment.
It Was Too Fast
This theory supposes that we just did the whole thing too quickly, and if we just took a year or two more to roll out the Core, it coulda woulda shoulda been as smooth as silk chocolate pie.
But it was never going to wait, and here's why. Folks make a lot of noise about Race to the Top and its roll in shoving CCSS down the states' collective throats. But we need to remember the ticking time bomb that was No Child Left Behind. From the moment that it became clear that Congress was incapable of successfully reauthorizing NCLB, all fifty states knew they were just counting down to the day when every single one of them was going to be in violation of federal law.
That day, of course, is today. This year we were all supposed to have-- by law--schools where 100% of the students were above average. The rollout of CCSS could not wait. It was never going to wait. Its backers didn't WANT to wait. They didn't want discussion, they didn't want comments, and they didn't want states to have time to think about whether this was a good idea or not.
The speedy high-pressure rollout was not a bug. It was a feature. It wasn't an error. It was the plan.
We Should Have Waited for the Tests and Materials To Be Ready
See above. We were not going to take that kind of time. And actually, some companies got out the door pretty quickly with some of those books and materials (almost as if they were the same people who wrote the standards in the first place).
It doesn't matter anyway. the day the actual CCSS tests arrive is the day we throw the CCSS out the window. We already know parts of the CCSS don't matter-- cooperative learning will never be on the test, nor will any true close reading (which takes more than one quick, time-crunched look at a chunk of disconnected text).
What we really need is for the tests not to be linked to student and teacher fates. The fact that the tests will be high stakes (the highest stakes ever for tests in this country) guarantees that we all will, in fact, shortly be teaching to those tests. The CCSS were sold as a good predictor of what would be on the test, but we've already seen this movie, and in it, the tests turn out to be a hodge-podge of badly designed trick questions only nominally related to the standards. Bottom line--tests first, tests last, tests and standards at the same time, we'll still be facing the same problems; making up paperwork to make our curriculum's look aligned while we scramble for any materials that give our students an extra edge on the useless tests.
More Teacher Involvement
Well, yes. But there's only one way that would have helped, and that's if teachers had been involved in creating the standards in the first place and can we please for the love of God stop telling that same stupid lie about how they were?
See, here's the logistical problem with top-down initiatives. It's not just that involving the people who will have to implement your stupid idea allows them to say, "Hey, that won't work," and it's not just that you get them to buy in and take ownership so that they actually care whether this lumbering beast succeeds or not.
It's that with top-down initiatives, only the people at the top know what's supposed to happen. The story of the CCSS rollout has been the story of legislators, college professors, consultants, publishers, school administrators, state ed bureaucrats, and all manner of education middle men trying to come up with an answer when classroom teachers ask, "So what exactly is it that I'm supposed to do?" Specifically trying to come up with an answer and either A) failing and shrugging or B) making shit up or C) passing on the answer they got from someone else who didn't really know either.
The brave gallant leaders who cobbled together the CCSS revolution put out the battle cry, and then as the troops assembled, they went home. If you or your school or your state education department want to go talk to the people who created this so that you can get clarification, you literally can't do it. The CCSS are the classic scam where you go back to the guy to whom you wrote that huge check and you find an empty office because he's out working on his next job.
So the only way to implement a top-down program successfully is to stick around to nurse it and train your footsoldiers. The only way to avoid that problem is to involve the footsoldiers in the planning process. Neither of those things was ever going to happen here.
Well, But, Theoretically
Yeah, sure. You know what else looked great on paper? Communism. Folks in the twenties and thirties loved it. Heck-- George Orwell loved it. Why do you think he was so bitter and angry about how it actually turned out.
Ideas cannot do anything as ideas. A song is not really a song when it's in my head; only when I sing it or play it. Saying, "Well, it's a great melody until you actually hear it" is nonsense. Putting on paper wings and saying, "Well, this would totally work if the laws of physics were different" as you jump off the roof is cold comfort to your broken limbs.
"This would be great except for the ways in which it clashes with how people really act and think and learn and behave and just, you know, reality" is nonsense.
Various Minor Tweaks
No. Just no. These are "deck chairs on the Titanic" suggestions.
It was never possible, by the very nature of its top-down, ill-conceived, time-pressured, amateur-concocted foolishness, for CCSS to be implemented successfully. We are not experiencing bumps in the road that could or might still be smoothed out with better implementation. We are getting exactly what this Reformy Stuff could be predicted (and was) to give us. You could get in the Wayback Machine and try to re-implement CCSS a thousand times, and every time will turn out just as ugly as this one.