The Common Core Train Has Left the Station, On Track for Student Success

Claiming that the Common Core and aligned assessment “train is pulling some very inadequate policies and practices into our schools,” two college professors write in the Connecticut Post that the state must dump the standards “for the sake of our children.” The piece contains the usual litany of falsehoods that the standards were “hastily written, not by educators, but by a small group of entrepreneurs,” the aligned assessments are “developmentally inappropriate,” and the “focus … on only math and literacy” excludes other school subjects.

For educators who claim to have the best interest of children at heart, the Connecticut Post piece is loaded down with misinformation and outright falsehoods. How that benefits children is questionable at best, manipulative at worst.

While it’s true that it’s too early to determine the full impact that the standards have had already and will continue to have on education, preliminary indicators point to positive results. Early adopter states – like Kentucky and Tennessee – are reporting great academic improvements among all student groups.

The standards, voluntarily adopted by more than 40 states, are simply academic benchmarks. Therefore, teachers maintain incredible flexibility to design their own lessons plans and to choose their own materials. In fact, a new report from the RAND Corporation found that “more than 90 percent of math educators surveyed on the report … said they either selected or developed their own materials.”

The standards are not a silver bullet, nor were they ever intended to be, but they were developed by educators and academic researchers who understood what students need to master in order to be successful in life after high school. Experts have testified time and again that the standards – and the aligned assessments – are indeed developmentally appropriate and do not unfairly challenge children beyond their abilities.

The authors ignore Kentucky’s gains entirely, arguing that the state’s “students of color have been particularly poorly served,” making it all the more urgent that states ditch the standards.

Factual data from Kentucky says differently. From 2012 to 2015, African American fifth graders have seen an 11 percent increase in assessment scores; white students saw a 12 percent increase. As we’ve said before, “while gaps in achievement have not closed yet between the state’s African American and white students, both groups have seen increases in student performance.” National civil rights groups have repeatedly spoken out in support of the standards and aligned assessments as a benefit to communities of color and low-income families.

The claims made in the Connecticut Post piece have been debunked time and again. Instead of arguing that the Common Core train should be “called back to the station,” it’s time to realize that the Common Core train has left the station – a benefit to students in Connecticut and across the country.