A recent study by the Pioneer Institute confirms what most parents and educators already knew: Common Core is the leading killer of education achievement and innovation we’ve seen in decades.
In addition to being a one-size-fits-all coffin for educational advancement and innovation, it’s also hindering the ability of school choice alternatives to offer what made them appealing in the first place — a true, personalized and strong foundational education.
In other words, public charter schools and voucher programs have been forced to lower their potential since federal and state mandates have forced them to use Common Core and the standards have invaded the entire spectrum of curriculum and testing.
Key excerpt from the Pioneer Institute:
Common Core is the logical endpoint of nearly three decades of Congressionally-mandated centralization through ‘standards-based reform’ that has moved key curriculum content, sequencing and pedagogical decisions away from local school systems and educators to the state and national levels. Instead of the promised accountability for results or informed school choice, the outcome at the local level has been a culture of compliance (“alignment”) that has intruded into the core function of curriculum and teaching.
“With its near-monopoly status distorting the textbook and other instructional materials markets,” said Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, who co-authored the study with Rebarber, “Common Core blunts the innovation, dynamism and competition that is the heart of the school choice movement.”
The authors find that after several decades of only incremental test score improvements, which started prior to federal requirements for curriculum centralization, since Common Core was implemented in 45 states and Washington, D.C., student results are showing the first significant declines in achievement, especially for students who were already behind.
Fourth- and eighth-grade math scores were down overall on the 2015 and 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The declines among lower-performing students (bottom quartile) were even steeper. Fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were flat, with declines among lower-performing students. At the same time, the U.S. is no closer to the internationally competitive performance in math and science observed in top-tier developed nations.
Instead of accelerating the curriculum to more advanced topics and following the practices of leading international competitors, Common Core’s politically-driven process resulted in the adoption of the mediocre curriculum sequences used in a number of mid-performing states and promoted progressive instructional dogmas shared by its developers.
Pioneer suggest that the U.S. Department of Education and the states should allow for more experimentation and loosen the standards and curriculum driven stranglehold on student achievement. Download their full report here.
North Carolina Forces Charter Schools To Use Common Core
Since 2012, I’ve been neck deep in the Common Core fight in North Carolina. Despite my efforts and the efforts of many other parents who joined me in the fight, few parents probably realize that NC’s charters are required by law to follow the same standards which are set by the state, which is Common Core.
To their credit, many of the state’s Charter Schools have been given flexibility (to a point) in how they approach Common Core.
It’s not their fault the state forces them to use the same set of failed, age and developmentally inappropriate standards as their traditional counterparts.
It’s the fault of the NC State Board of Education, the State Superintendent and legislators. This trio followed the drumbeat of former Supt. June Atkinson, and made sure that Common Core was here to stay despite the protestations of very angry parents.
The Pioneer report mentions that “Fourth- and eighth-grade math scores were down overall on the 2015 and 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress.” The results in North Carolina have been no different. In fact, our math scores have been stagnant or falling right along with the rest of the country.
Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation has tracked both the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the state level End of Grade exams for longer than I have.
He recently offered a blunt insight into the slippage in North Carolina: