States’ Implementation of Common Core Still New, but Evidence Indicates High Standards Are Improving Schools

A drop in the percentage of 12th grade students that are college and career ready on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is evidence Common Core State Standards are not working, Neal McCluskey argues on the CATO at Liberty blog. “Not only has there been no meaningful evidence of the Core’s effectiveness…These scores do undermine any proclamations of proven Core effectiveness.”

But as McCluskey himself acknowledges, it’s impossible to attribute changes in NAEP scores to any one education policy, especially the Common Core. However, two years’ worth of data are not nearly enough to determine any sort of trend, and it is too soon to make such a leap.

“It’s unfair to say the Common Core had anything to do with these scores going down,” Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution said last fall of the drop in overall NAEP scores. “If [the scores] went up, it would be unfair to say it had anything to do with them going up. You just can’t tell from the NAEP data.”

Not surprisingly, McCluskey resuscitates a common, but disingenuous, criticism of the Common Core: that the standards are “federally driven.” Objective analysis has time and time again rejected claims that Common Core State Standards were developed by the federal government or forced on states.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that under the Common Core, “the curriculum and teaching methods are decided locally.” Likewise, US News & World Report points out, “School districts design the curricula, and teachers create their own methods for instruction, selecting the resources best tailored to their lessons.”

To make it clear once and for all, the Every Student Succeeds Act guarantees states have full sovereignty over their education standards—further ensuring local school boards and educators have control over what is taught in their classrooms and how it’s taught.

It’s time for Common Core opponents like McCluskey to recognize that their recycled criticisms and misinformation are far from hitting the mark.