Former public school teacher, Diane Sekula’s opposition to the Common Core has been well established but she continues to get her facts wrong. When given a platform as influential as the Union Leader, it makes it appear she’s telling the truth. The fact is, more than 40 states voluntarily adopted the standards, which continue to prove themselves to be of higher quality and more rigorous than the patchwork of educational benchmarks states had cobbled together over the years.
Her claim that they are “not nearly as stringent as the old Massachusetts state standards, which … are still widely regarded as being the best standards in the country” is belied by a study from the Massachusetts Business Alliance that found that fewer than half of Massachusetts high school seniors graduate prepared for college-level reading and math. The executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education noted that 69 percent of the state’s employers say they have a hard time hiring workers who has the skills they need.
Accountability in education is not a new idea, but states still struggle with how best to hold educators accountable to students. The standards-aligned assessments have met with widespread criticism that scores, which are still working toward stabilization through the implementation process, would be used unfairly to assess teaching capability. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill that would have allowed parents to opt their kids out of Common Core-related exams without any consequences. Unfortunately, other state leaders did not take similarly strong actions. Federal officials “denied Colorado education officials’ request to give schools leeway due to large numbers of students opting out of standardized testing. When the state put in a request for impunity, the U.S. Department of Education said that failing to hold schools with high opt-out rates accountable would hurt overall efforts to better schools and close the achievement gap.”
A memo from Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen highlights the success of early adopter states like Tennessee. Cowen wrote that Tennessee “put a great deal of support behind implementation efforts. The state’s percentage of college-bound students requiring remediation has fallen consecutively over the past four years, from 77 percent in 2011 to 63 percent in 2015. In 2014 Tennessee made the largest improvement in college-readiness rates in more than a decade.”
The fact is, the Common Core standards remain the highest quality benchmarks available that do what they claim: better prepare students for success after high school. States that have dumped the standards and attempted to write their own have found it nigh impossible to create an academic roadmap that conveys excellence in education with no resemblance to Common Core.