Common Core State Standards Are Raising Classroom Expectations. So Why Are Some Suggesting They Are Past Their Prime?

A study released today by Tom Loveless, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, analyzes whether the changes promoted by the Common Core State Standards are making their way into the classroom based on a survey of educators. Loveless finds in early years of Common Core State Standards implementation “strong” and “medium” implementers made larger gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). But between 2013 and 2015, non-adopter states made larger gains.

However, two years’ worth of data are not nearly enough to determine any sort of trend. A disclaimer within the report cautions it is too soon to make such a leap. The “analysis does not investigate whether changes in particular practices have caused gains or losses in student achievement. The practices examined here are simply being used as markers for indicating the degree to which CCSS recommendations have penetrated schools and classrooms.”

The report indicates that some changes haven’t fully made their way into the classroom, yet Loveless argues, “Common Core may have already had its biggest impact.” An Education Week headline, “Is Common Core’s Effect on Achievement Fading?” reinforces Loveless’ suggestion.

Most experts would disagree with Loveless— and would argue that it’s too soon to know for sure how Common Core State Standards are affecting student achievement, which the Education Week article acknowledges. As one expert points out, states that have adopted the Common Core are at all different stages of implementation, making it difficult to draw sweeping conclusions.

But a wealth of evidence does show states are raising classroom expectation through the implementation of Common Core State Standards. An analysis by Achieve this year finds most states have closed their discrepancies between self-reported proficiency rates and those identified by NAEP, giving parents a more accurate snapshot of how well prepare for college and careers their children are.

Likewise, a Harvard University study finds “45 states have raised their standards for student proficiency in reading and math” since most began implementing Common Core Standards. “Now, in the wake of the Common Core campaign, a majority of states have made a dramatic move forward,” the report states. “The Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.”