The Name “Common Core” Is a Hot-Button Topic, but in Reality the Standards Debate Is Settled

Although “Common Core might not be quite the hot-button topic it was in 2014 or 2015,” it is still a contentious issue, writes Education Week reporter Andrew Ujifusa. The piece points to comments from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has repeatedly pledged to “end Common Core,” and from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Congress already ended Common Core.

But in reality, the debate over high, comparable education standards is, for all intents and purposes, resolved. Overwhelmingly, states have adopted rigorous learning goals, they have partnered those with high-quality assessments that measure student performance to those college- and career-ready levels, and most continue to strengthen their standards even further.

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

The Every Student Succeeds Act ensures states and districts have full control over their standards. The law, which permanently replaces No Child Left Behind, hands ownership of academic standards back to the states, forever ending any hint of federal requirements that states use certain standard or assessments.

By raising the bar for students, and keeping it high, states are doing right by parents. An Education Next poll this fall found that more than two-thirds of parents strongly support rigorous, comparable education standards that prepare their children for college and careers, no matter what label is attached. More than seven in ten favor annual exams to measure student preparedness and disagree with opt-out efforts.

Politicians who continue to insist that states were forced to implement higher standards are barking up an empty tree. In response to recent comments by Donald Trump, Jim Cowen explains:

“In the end, his clamor about ending the Common Core is both obsolete and irrelevant. The standards succeeded in raising the bar in nearly every state in the country. Now parents, students and teachers are focused on meeting these new goals to better become college and career ready.”

The Common Core achieved its purpose. States have implemented high standards, they continue to build on those further, they have begun to use assessments reflective of college and career readiness, and there is greater comparability among states and districts than before. That is a huge success that everyone should support.