A Study Has Been Released Predicting a Rocky Future for the Common Core Standards

By Cameron Pipkin

Lot’s in the news today about the Common Core State Standards—most of it negative.

First, much of the national discussion over the Standards is coming out of states that are attempting to abolish them. The most recent of these, South Carolina, is having a serious standoff, with Common Core detractors appearing everywhere, from the governor to the state schools superintendent.

Second, a report conducted by the Brookings Institution was released this week regarding (among other things) the viability of the Common Core Standards. Rather than summarize, I’ll just quote what the study said.

States have had curricular standards for schools within their own borders

for many years. Data on the effects of those standards are analyzed

to produce three findings. 1) The quality of state standards, as indicated

by the well-known ratings from the Fordham Foundation, is not related

to state achievement. 2) The rigor of state standards, as measured by how

high states place the cut point for students to be deemed proficient, is also

unrelated to achievement. Raising or lowering the cut point is related to

achievement in fourth grade, but the effect is small, and the direction of

causality (whether a change in cut point produces a change in test score

or vice versa) is difficult to determine. 3) The ability of standards to

reduce variation in achievement, in other words to reduce differences in

achievement, is also weak.

So, essentially, the Brookings Institute finds, based upon the past success of individual states’ standards, that standards, and subsequently the Common Core, don’t affect student achievement in any way, and that they don’t level the educational playing field.

I have my own opinions on these findings, but all I’ll say for now is this: in the last week I’ve read studies and expert analyses that have rejected the role of curricular standards, assessments, funding, and teacher education in elevating student success. What does that leave us with? It seems that the only elevating factor anyone can agree on is family income and parental involvement. In the wake of the Common Core Standards, is this really the only solution we can count on in education? It would be a shame if it were, because it isn’t a solution at all, but a cause.

What do you think of the Brookings Institute’s findings? Are there flaws in their methods, or the way they drew their conclusions? How are we going to fix our schools?



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