Has Common Core ‘Messed Up’ Math and Taken the Excitement out of Reading? Not at All. 


Common Core State Standards were pushed onto states by the federal government and business groups, “condemning many of our children to a hobbled life,” claims Joan Johnson, a Michigan resident, in a letter to the Livingston Daily.

In math, the Common Core has “messed up” instruction from kindergarten onward, Johnson argues. It’s even “totally eliminated” algebra requirements at Wayne State and Michigan State University, the letter contends.

However, Common Core State Standards have no bearing on college requirements. The standards set clear, consistent learning goals only for K-12 public schools; and colleges and universities develop their own curricular requirements. In fact, a growing number of college administrators and instructors support the Common Core to improve incoming students’ readiness.

Moreover, contrary to Johnson’s claim, the Common Core is designed to help students develop stronger fundamental math skills necessary to succeed in college and career. By emphasizing multiple approaches to problem solving, the standards help students build fluency with numbers and math operations.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics strongly supports the Common Core. The standards offer “a foundation for the development of more rigorous, focused, and coherent mathematics curricula, instruction, and assessments that promote conceptual understanding and reasoning as well as skill fluency,” the organization’s official position explains.

Johnson’s argument that Common Core State Standards emphasize “word-say” and take the joy out of reading is also wildly untrue. The standards encourage greater use of non-fiction texts, but that is spread across all subjects. Classic literature remains a principal element English instruction under the Common Core.

Through the Common Core, “students are getting regular practice with complex and grade-level appropriate texts, using more informational texts, and practicing more evidence-based writing,” a report by the Center for American Progress notes. “The ELA standards are also influencing the way teachers approach instruction to help students achieve the standards.”

Objective analysis has repeatedly rejected claims that the federal government played a role in developing the Common Core, or that federal authorities pushed the standards on states. In actuality, educators and experts from across the country developed the standards with no federal involvement. States voluntarily adopted the standards and most continue to implement and build on the Common Core.

In the 2014-15 school year, most states administered assessments aligned to the Common Core for the first time, establishing a new baseline for student achievement. Now in the second year, states that have demonstrated a commitment to properly implementing the standards and supporting educators overwhelmingly are seeing improvements in student outcomes.

“Although it’s too early to plan a flag, initial results indicate…the original promise of the Common Core is working,” Jim Cowen explains. “This year’s initial assessment results demonstrate that when states have avoided political theater – and instead focused attention on supporting students and teachers – they experienced notable improvements.”

Most states, including Michigan, are making progress with rigorous standards and high-quality assessments. To revert back to inferior academic expectations as Johnson suggests would put students at a disadvantage and create disruption and uncertainty for schools.