Think High Standards Aren’t Working? Think Again.
Some critics of high standards – including the Common Core – are so bent on turning the public against the standards that they’ve claimed, loudly, that high standards aren’t working.
Unfortunately for them, results from this year’s state assessments – which are aligned to higher education standards – paint a very different picture. In a majority of states across the country, students made significant improvements in math and English language arts proficiency. Simply put, these findings suggest that higher standards are helping more students achieve to higher levels.
Our analysis earlier this year (see ImpactofHigherStandards.org for more information) underscored another important finding: While much hay has been made about “fuzzy” or “new” math—early introduction to conceptual math, and a focus on showing students multiple ways of solving problems, is benefitting our nation’s students.
Not only have scores increased, but more third-graders are on grade-level than in previous years. While math has been much maligned on social media, third-graders—who have had most, if not all, of their instruction aligned to the increased rigor of the Common Core—are proving that they are up to the challenge, with proficiency rates improving by nearly four points across the country. Similarly, fourth-graders improved by just over three points.
“While there are numerous factors that affect student scores, and it is still too early to make definitive declarations, the 2016 assessments suggest that the promise of higher academic standards – whatever they may be called – is working,” Jim Cowen explains in a recent memo.
And parents support high standards, too. Polling shows that parents strongly support academic standards that fully prepare their kids for college and careers, no matter what label is attached.
We still have a long way to go, but early signs show that we’re moving in the right direction. Higher standards are indeed working.