Common Core not making the grade

I have been an advocate, albeit a quiet and obscure one, for the Common Core in education.
I might be wrong.


Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

Some recently announced national compilations of results seem to show that test scores for kids steeped in Common Core education since about 2010 are down, compared to results of kids whose education was not based on the Common Core.
I think it’s sad if the Common Core doesn’t make the grade, because its origins united the best intentions of the best qualified, educators and responsible state-level office holders.
The Common Core was based on two central ideas.
One was that as a whole, U.S. schools needed to catch up to educational achievement levels attained of the world’s best school systems. The Common Core’s key to improvement is a focus on critical thinking.
U.S. public educational achievement is still overshadowed by Asian countries and most of industrialized Europe.
The other central idea was that a kid in Mississippi, New Mexico or West Virginia should have the same opportunity to get a competitive level of education as a kid in Connecticut, New Jersey or Massachusetts.
This does not mean the Common Core is or should be a federal mandate. It is not a federal mandate, despite the outcry from the misinformed.
Despite dedicated efforts, however, there are indications the Common Core may not be working.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Brookings Institute’s Brown Center on Education Policy reports, students in states that did not adopt the Common Core made larger gains in educational achievement, measured by test scores, than those in common core states.
In New Jersey, according to NPR, fewer than half of students tested proficient in language arts, and only about a third were proficient in math.
NPR reports there were similar disappointments in other states.
These evaluations, however, raise as many questions as answers.
For instance, are the evaluations using comparable standards?
Are teachers being adequately prepared to teach the Common Core?
The jury is out. The Common Core still gets good and bad reviews from both progressive and conservative leaders within and outside of education.
So, what if the Common Core doesn’t work?
We need to try something else. What we were doing before wasn’t working either.


Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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