Study: Common Core Standards Will Have Little to No Impact on Student Achievement

Study: Common Core Standards Will Have Little to No Impact on Student Achievement

A new study published by the Brookings Institution has concluded that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have “little to no impact on student achievement.”

The Brookings Institution’s 2014 Brown Center report states:

It is doubtful that even the most ardent Common Core supporter will be satisfied if the best CCSS can offer–after all of the debate, the costs in tax revenue, and blood, sweat, and tears going into implementation–is a three point NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] gain.

The 2012 Brown Center Report predicted, based on an empirical analysis of the effects of state standards, that the CCSS will have little to no impact on student achievement. Supporters of the Common Core argue that strong, effective implementation of the standards will sweep away such skepticism by producing lasting, significant gains in student learning. So far, at least–and it is admittedly the early innings of a long ballgame–there are no signs of such an impressive accomplishment.

Researchers performed two statistical analyses. The first compared changes in test scores on the Nation’s Report Card, which reports the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States, between groups of states that had previously been placed into two categories: “those with math mandates like Common Core,” and “those with math mandates not like Common Core.”

According to Brookings, states whose standards were less like Common Core performed better on national assessments than those states that had standards more like Common Core.

In addition, a data analysis found the difference in test scores between those states that were considered “strong implementers” of the Common Core standards and those states that never adopted the standards (Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia) “are not even noticeable, let alone significant.”

In fact, the Brookings report states, “It will take 24 years for a noticeable improvement to unfold. And that improvement would add up to 7.62 NAEP scale score points, a gain in 24 years that falls far short of the 22 point gain that NAEP registered in its first 23 years.”

The Brookings authors warn, however, that some of the data used to study the effects of the Common Core standards are “lumpy,” undoubtedly due primarily to the fact there is no direct data for the standards. This reality underscores further the assertion of critics of the standards that the Common Core initiative was adopted by state boards of education–sight unseen–and despite the fact that the standards were unproven and untested.

The statement of the study’s authors is sobering nonetheless, especially as it comes when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which last year received $1.3 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote Common Core, has launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign with other business groups to promote the standards. At the same time, Gates, who has spent upwards of $170 million on implementation of the initiative, has been interviewed on national television to defend the controversial standards.

In addition, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an avid supporter of the Common Core, is urging Republicans, who have often been the main obstacles to repeal of the standards in the states, to “stay the course” and keep the standards going.

This urgent political campaign to promote the Common Core standards indicates that Common Core opponents and grassroots groups of parents and teachers are having a major impact in the states. A total of 33 states now have had some form of legislation raised against the standards themselves, the aligned testing, or the associated student data collection.



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