States Have Used the Common Core to Set High, Comparable Learning Goals. That Is a Huge Success for Schools, Parents and Students

An Education Week map that tracks implementation of Common Core State Standards indicates nine states have announced “major” rewrites or replacements. According to the analysis, those include states like Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and West Virginia.

However, nearly across the board, so-called “rewrites” have produced modest changes that tailor the learning goals to local students’ needs – which perfectly aligns with the original intention of the Common Core.

The standards were always meant to set a floor, not a ceiling, for student achievement – and that how states have used them. Overwhelmingly, state and district leaders have opted against full-scale repeal and instead continued to build up on the framework of higher standards.

A Harvard University study notes, “The Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.”

Jim Cowen explains, regardless of labels, parents and teachers strongly support high, comparable education standards benchmarked to college and career readiness. By keeping the bar high for schools, that is what states are delivering, and most are now beginning to see student performance improve.

As the commentary accompanying the Education Week map acknowledges, although some reviews have been touted as major overhauls of states’ standards often those efforts have produced nearly identical learning goals. In South Carolina, for example, the state’s new standards are 92 percent aligned to the Common Core in math and 89 percent aligned in English language arts.

A separate Education Week article today adds “direct repeals of the Common Core are not especially common,” and the issue isn’t quite the political hot-button it used to be in states.”

Instead, states are doubling down on their commitment to raising expectations in the classroom – and most are now beginning to see the rewards of those efforts.

This year, most states administered assessments aligned to higher standards for the second year in a row. A majority made improvements in student proficiency in math and reading, and some of the biggest gains were made by third-graders, who have spent most or all of their educational careers learning to higher standards.

In fact, our analysis underscores that Oklahoma is the only state that has replaced the Common Core with discernibly different learning goals. The outcome serves as a cautionary lesson for policymakers elsewhere considering a similar path: Oklahoma created disruption and uncertainty for schools to ultimately end up with demonstrably inferior standards.

While most states have continued to strengthen expectations by tailoring and building on the Common Core framework, Oklahoma has created standards that put the state’s students at a “disadvantage,” according to an independent analysis. “Students in Oklahoma will be less prepared to successfully enter college and careers.”

The Common Core achieved its purpose: States have raised academic expectations, there is greater comparability and schools are measuring student readiness to college and career levels. That is a huge success for parents, teachers and students.

As states and districts develop plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, it’s important they continue build on those gains. By keeping the bar high for all students, states will better ensure young people have access to an education that fully prepares them for college, a career or whatever path they choose after high school.