Carnegie Corporation: Common Core Will Double High School Dropout Rate

Carnegie Corporation: Common Core Will Double High School Dropout Rate

A study published by the pro-Common Core Carnegie Corporation in 2013 generated a key finding that has not received much attention, but perhaps should be quoted often at education hearings in state legislatures and school board meetings, as well. The study has determined that the Common Core will increase the high school dropout rate.

John Thompson at This Week in Education is one of the few who reported recently that the study, entitled “Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success,” contains the striking admission by Carnegie, assisted by the McKinsey Group.

A table on page 10 of the report depicts four and six-year high school graduation and dropout rates for U.S. students entering high school in 2009. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the table shows a current six-year graduation rate of 85 percent and a dropout rate of 15 percent.

The stunner comes when we look at the same table’s projections of four and six-year graduation and dropout rates using the Common Core standards. The prediction is a six-year graduation rate of 70 percent, with a 30 percent dropout rate.

The conclusion drawn, without much ado from the Carnegie researchers, is that the Common Core standards’ predicted graduation rate is 15 percent lower than the current rate, with an accompanying doubled dropout rate.

In their report, researchers Leah Hamilton and Anne Mackinnon calmly accept what seems like jarring results, considering the hype from proponents about how the Common Core standards are going to help catapult American students into the global marketplace. Carnegie’s lack of concern is likely because the corporation’s main focus is on redesigning schools to the “small schools” model, and its hope is that realization of the intense support that is needed to help students succeed with Common Core will move school districts toward that “small schools” design.

The Carnegie authors wrote:

The implementation of the Common Core is an unprecedented chance to “do school differently” for greater impact. While progress at the state level has been significant, we must also seize this opportunity to redesign schools to enable personalized learning.


Now is the time to assess whether addressing teaching talent alone is enough to close the student proficiency gaps exposed by the Common Core within approximately the next five years. In a recent modeling exercise, analysts from McKinsey & Company used available estimates of what can be accomplished by top-quartile teachers (those able to “move” student performance at the rate of 1.25 grade levels per year … ) to test whether or not it might be possible to avoid large drops in graduation rates using human capital strategies alone. The short answer is no: even coordinated, rapid, and highly effective efforts to improve high school teaching would leave millions of students achieving below the level needed for graduation and college success as defined by the Common Core. Initiatives designed to strengthen teaching, whether through improved curriculum, excellent professional development, or hiring well-prepared teacher candidates, will be tremendously important to standards implementation, but they cannot possibly meet the demand to raise student achievement to Common Core levels unless they are part of more far-reaching changes in school design.

The real aim for Carnegie, then, is not simply the nationalized Common Core standards. Instead, it’s the total redesign of the public school system, a goal that had its first hope of being achieved in 1981, when Carnegie donated seed money to Ted Sizer, a humanist and the founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), a reform movement that follows a Marxist social justice ideology. The co-founder of CES schools is Deborah Meier, also a Marxist and long-time associate of Bill Ayers, Mike Klonsky, and other educators known for their anti-American views.

As Associated Press archives indicate, in 1986, Carnegie Corporation created the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, and one of its panels that aimed to establish a national standards board for teachers was chaired by former North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., who served as vice chairman of the board of Achieve, Inc., the nonprofit that developed and is implementing the Common Core standards with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Also on Hunt’s task force was former Carnegie President John W. Gardner, American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker, IBM Vice President Lewis Branscomb, and CES co-founder Meier.

The executive director of the Carnegie Forum was Marc Tucker, who eventually established the National Center on Education and the Economy that would work as an independent institution but would still continue the philosophy of the Carnegie Corporation.

Tucker’s vision of a nationalized education system was realized in three laws passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1994: the Goals 2000 Act, the School to Work Act, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In addition to establishing student data collection systems and national standards and assessments, the enactment of these laws permitted federal funds to go to governors and their appointees as they bypassed elected officials on school boards and in state legislatures.

Though Carnegie’s lack of sufficient concern about its study’s results of the effects of the Common Core is clearly tied to its desire to move school design in its direction, the fact remains its data represents a setback for American students under these nationalized standards.


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