States Are Free to Choose Their Own Education Standards, Build on Common Core Framework

Writing in the New Boston Post, anti-Common Core critic Sandra Stotsky insists the Every Student Succeeds Act “all but guarantees” states will continue “the lowering of academic standards” through the Common Core. “All that most parents can do henceforth is keep their children home on days when the schools give federal or state mandated tests in order to make mandated tests invalid—and the curriculum they drive not worth teaching to.”

Contrary to Stotsky’s claim, the Every Student Succeeds Act ensures state and local officials have full control over what academic standards their schools use. Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the ESSA a “huge win for conservatives.” He continued, “If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that.”

Having weighed the evidence, even some of the most conservative-leaning states in the country have voted down or failed to move forward legislation to repeal Common Core State Standards. Instead, states are overwhelmingly continuing to review and refine their Common Core State Standards, and build on them even further—exactly as they were designed.

Stotsky pans such efforts as the “strategy du jour” used to “deceive” legislators and parents (The piece says that’s “what seems to be taking place in Texas,” even though Texas never adopted the Common Core). But a new white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success points out, state officials are embracing Common Core State Standards because they incorporate the best evidence of what skills students need to graduate high school prepared for college and careers.

Evidence from the three states to repeal the Common Core indicate there are only two outcomes from such an ill-advised course of action: a reaffirmation of the Common Core under a new name, or the adoption of inferior standards. State must “reject political rhetoric and defend higher standards, or capitulate to a few loud voices by lowering the bar,” Karen Nussle explains.

“It’s impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core,” Mike Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute wrote in late 2014. “That’s because Common Core, though not perfect, represents a good-faith effort to incorporate the current evidence of what students need to know and do to succeed in credit-bearing courses in college or to land a good-paying job — and the milestones younger students need to pass to reach those goals.”