Once First in the Nation, Massachusetts Students Show Further Decline After Common Core


Massachusetts students were first in the nation in reading and math performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam – until the state adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 and then updated the same standards this year.

According to a new study released by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute, while Common Core led to tumbling scores on the NAEP in both English and math for Massachusetts students, the 2017 standards update shows students’ performance in English is deteriorating further as math scores remain as they did with the 2010 Common Core.

“These standards rely on process- and skills-based ideas, which brush aside knowledge of Western and English literary traditions,” said Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein, a co-author of Pioneer’s study titled “Mediocrity 2.0: Massachusetts Rebrands Common Core ELA and Math.”

“The result is a set of standards light on content but heavy on fuzzy subjective terms such as ‘high quality’ and ‘challenging,’” Bauerlein added. “Great works of literary art and the history of the English language, not to mention the American patrimony, disappear.”

Pioneer explains what has happened with the 2017 revised standards:

The standards direct teachers to fill their syllabi with materials drawn from different cultures, but with no guidance as to the enduring literary value of various works.  As a result, sensitivity to diversity prevails over traditional literary and historical knowledge.

The new mathematics standards are not an improvement over the Common Core-aligned standards adopted by Massachusetts in 2010. Under the new standards, Massachusetts students will remain three or more years behind their peers in high-achieving countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

“These standards are based on the idea that the math students used to learn is obsolete,” said Stanford University Professor Emeritus of Mathematics James Milgram, a co-author of the study, according to Pioneer. “But mathematics is entirely hierarchical. Areas that have become more prominent in the 21st century require the same basic math foundation.”

The fall in scores in the Bay State since Common Core was adopted is especially noteworthy, given the state’s prior first place ranking, but between 2011 and 2015, Massachusetts was one of 16 states that experienced a drop in their NAEP scores.

“The evidence is building that it was a demonstrable mistake for Massachusetts to adopt these standards,” said Jamie Gass, director of Pioneer’s Center for School Reform, according to the Gloucester Times. “It’s pretty clear from the recent data that we’re backsliding as a state. Common Core is failing kids.”

Another international measure of reading skills released last week showed that the achievement gap in the United States has widened since implementation of Common Core, a progressive reform that was supposedly going to shrink that gap.

According to results released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2016, the average score in the U.S. on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) dropped to 549 out of 1,000 from the average score of 556 in 2011. The results translate into the nation’s decline from fifth in international ranking in 2011 to 13th in 2016 out of 58 international education systems.

Additionally, the lowest performing students in the U.S. declined the most in performance on the PIRLS, leading to the wider gap between lower income minority and middle class students.

Similarly, in April of 2016, NAEP results showed that only about 37 percent of U.S. 12th graders are prepared for math and reading at the college level.

Results of the 2015 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Program in International Student Assessment (PISA) also found American students showing, at best, mediocre performance in math, science, and reading.

“What we see since the Common Core took over is that our educational achievement is actually deteriorating rather than just being unable to keep up,” former U.S. Education Department senior policy adviser under George W. Bush Ze’ev Wurman told Breitbart News.

“One wonders for how long will the states – and [Bill] Gates-funded educational researchers – keep the charade that Common Core standards are ‘rigorous’ and ‘demanding’ in view of the deteriorating reality hitting their faces,” he added. “At some point even all the Bill Gates billions thrown at propping up this mediocre and ill-conceived educational disaster should not justify harming the future of millions of children.”


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