'Historic Declines' in US Math and Reading Scores Since Common Core Implementation: Study


Supporters of the Common Core education system will not be pleased with the findings of a new study.

U.S. reading and math scores on multiple assessments have all seen “historic declines since most states implemented national Common Core English and math curriculum standards six years ago,” according to a Monday news release from the Pioneer Institute, which published the study.

In the conclusion of the study, titled “The Common Core Debacle,” author Theodor Rebarber slammed Common Core’s failings.

“The notion that a single set of national curriculum standards could be wielded by education policy elites — most with little experience operating successful schools — to create excellence in classrooms across America has been a dream for many decades. Except that now, it seems more like hubris,” Rebarber said.

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According to the Common Core website, the Common Core State Standards were supposed to ensure students of all ages gain the knowledge and life skills necessary to succeed in college and their careers.

The website also claims the idea that “adopting common standards means bringing all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator” is a myth.

“The standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college, career, and life. This will result in moving even the best state standards to the next level.”

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But the evidence brought forward by the Pioneer Institute’s study suggests that has not been the case.

The Pioneer Institute is an independent, privately funded research organization based in Massachusetts.

The group conducted the study by comparing fourth- and eighth-grade student achievement scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress after the implementation of Common Core to their scores before Common Core’s implementation.

“From 2003 to 2013, national fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were increasing at an average of about half of a point each year,” the news release pointed out.

According to the study, widespread implementation of Common Core standards in most states occurred in 2014.

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“Since 2013, fourth-grade reading scores have been falling by less than half of a point each year, while eighth-grade scores have dropped by nearly a full point a year,” the news release added.

The study also found that on average, national math scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students were rising before Common Core.

“Post-Common Core, scores at both grades have fallen, eighth grade at nearly the same rate as it was previously increasing,” the news release said.

Common Core removed the fundamental competitive nature of educational reforms, Rebarber said.

“Before Common Core and before the earlier Congressional mandate on curriculum standards, states competed to design the best education reforms, including the best policies on curriculum and standards and local control,” he explained in the study.

“It was an entrepreneurial and vibrant atmosphere, some states did a better job in some areas, and other states picked up ideas from them. We also avoided a nation-wide debacle like Common Core.”

Overall, the study indicated that kids from different states and communities have different needs.

“With a more bottom-up approach, more school systems will have the opportunity to choose curricula consistent with our international competitors and many decades of research on effective classroom teaching,” Rebarber said.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
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Iowa State University
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