Common Core State Standards Are Helping Raise Classroom Expectations. Why Would States Want to Turn Back?

Andy Jones, a high-school teacher in Honolulu, suggests Common Core State Standards are only a “pretense of fostering critical-thinking skills” and will put more standardized testing requirements on schools. “It is incumbent on the [Department of Education]… to question its ongoing commitment to Common Core,” writes in the Honolulu Civil Beat. “Instead of trailing the nation, let’s place ourselves in the vanguard by putting a halt to this failed experiment.”

Jones ignores the fact Common Core State Standards were developed by experts, educators and leaders from across the country, and voluntarily adopted by states—including Hawaii. “The main plus with the Common Core is consistency,” said Daniel Hamada, the state’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, when Hawaii adopted Common Core Standards in 2010. “Whether you’re a third-grade class in Michigan or Hawaii, you’re going to be on the same page.”

Additionally, evidence overwhelmingly suggests Common Core State Standards are raising expectations in classrooms. An analysis by Achieve this year found more than half of states have significantly closed their Honesty Gaps in fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade math or both. “States should really be commended for starting to be more transparent with parents and educators about how their kids are doing,” said Sandy Boyd, COO of Achieve. “It really is the first step in improving outcomes.”

Likewise, a Harvard University study finds states have begun to raise their proficiency targets since implementing Common Core State Standards. “In the wake of the Common Core campaign, a majority of states have made a dramatic move forward,” explains Paul Peterson, coauthor of the report. “Not only have state standards risen across the country, but the differences in standards among the states narrowed considerably.”

While most states are moving forward by reviewing the Common Core and building on it further, lawmakers should reject calls like Jones’ to turn back. A new white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes, “Replacing the Common Core State Standards invariably leads to either modest adjustments and renaming…or, academic standards that are inferior to the Common Core.”