Has Common Core Failed?

The answer to the question, “has Common Core failed?” depends on what you think the goals of the Common Core movement were. In my mind, here’s a short list of what the Common Core movement accomplished:

  • More rigorous state standards;
  • More commonality across different sets of state standards; and
  • A further push on the idea that K-12 schools should prepare students to be “college- and career-ready.”

If, however, you held out hope that state standards themselves would lead to higher student achievement, well, you should read Morgan Polikoff and Tom Loveless’ columns in this Education Next debate on the long-term impacts of the Common Core.

Taking the opposing view, Mike Petrilli argues that Common Core just hasn’t had an effect yet. Ten years into the Common Core era, I’m with Polikoff and Loveless: Improving state standards may have been a worthy policy to pursue, but any downstream effects should be showing up by now. If anything, implementation fidelity is getting worse over time, not better. And, although Petrilli seems to think the opposite, I attribute the Common Core as one of several contributing factors that led to the weaker accountability systems adopted in the wake of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.

From my vantage point, the Common Core was a perfectly good idea that got over-extended and over-hyped.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

2 Replies to “Has Common Core Failed?”

  1. From the on-the-ground perspective, Petrilli has the best of this argument. Our district has a seven-year curriculum refresh cycle. Even getting to that point required digging up additional resources to fund it. We are within a year or two of completing a full CC- aligned refresh, but that means we *still* have grades and subjects where teachers are using older, non-aligned curriculum.

    Nor is the delay all the fault of the tax base. Multiple times in this process our district’s curriculum team has had to pause an evaluation/adoption because they found none of the materials they were testing were actually CC-aligned, no matter what was claimed.

    The idea that we’re a decade into CC is, unfortunately, not the reality in the classroom. Switching horses now will simply further delay progress, though Loveless’ point about whether the CC elementary math standards are actually good is one toward which I am sympathetic, as both a school board member and a parent of young children.

    Mend it, don’t end it, perhaps.

  2. Repeatedly, the Common Core math standards ask students to solve problems in ways that cognitive scientists say is certain to overwhelm the capacity limits of the working memory where the brain solves problems. As one example, the CC math standards ask kids to solve complex addition and subtraction before they automate recall of ANY math facts. Cognitive scientists say the student brain CANNOT do that. Standards that deny science will not work. Cognitive scientists have never been asked to review the stds. Do you think it might be time to do so?
    For the science, see http://www.ChemReview.Net/CCMS.pdf

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