Conservatives had this Common Core thing all wrong, it was said. We’d be proven wrong by history. Common Core, pushed by President Barack Obama, was going to work. It wasn’t like all the other liberal education plans.
A new study by the Pioneer Institute reveals that, no, we were right all along.
The study, released late last month, revealed there were huge drops in math and reading scores since Common Core was fully enacted in 2013. This was after decades of slow growth in both categories.
“Breaking with decades of slow improvement, U.S. reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and other assessments have seen historic declines since most states implemented national Common Core English and math curriculum standards six years ago,” a statement on the Pioneer Institute’s website read.
“While Common Core was promoted as improving the international competitiveness of U.S. students in math, our international standing has remained low while the skills of average and lower performing American students have dropped in reading,” it said.
How low has it remained? Only 10 percent of eighth-grade American students now score at an “advanced” level in math, according to the international study.
While we’re technically in the middle of countries worldwide, we’re much closer to the lower end of the scale (Turkey’s 6 percent and the United Arab Emirates‘ 5 percent) than to the top nations (Singapore at 54 percent, South Korea at 43 percent).
Kazakhstan (15 percent) and Hungary (12 percent) also beat us in that category.
Common Core was supposed to help us catch up to other countries — to make us more competitive with some of the world’s top nations in terms of academic achievement. How has that worked?
Since the standards’ full implementation in 2013, “average scores have generally declined and remain at a level that is statistically significantly lower than before Common Core,” the Pioneer Institute found in the study.
“Nationally, fourth- and eighth-grade NAEP math scores were rising gradually in the years before Common Core was implemented (2003-2013). Post-Common Core, scores at both grades have fallen, eighth grade at nearly the same rate as it was previously increasing,” the group said in its news release.
This is hardly surprising when you consider some of the labyrinthine math problems that ended up going viral when parents posted them on social media.
It’s even worse when you consider who was hardest-hit.
“The declines are most acute for the lowest-achieving students, increasing inequality,” the Pioneer Institute found.
“Scores for students at the 90th percentile have mostly continued their pre-Common Core trend of gradual improvement. But the farther behind students were, the more substantial the declines, with the biggest drops occurring for those at the 25th and 10th percentiles.”
It’s roughly the same story when it comes to reading.
“U.S. students fare better in reading than they do in math when compared to international competitors, but U.S. reading trends are similar to those seen in math, with gradual pre-Common Core improvement replaced by declines after Common Core was implemented,” the news release read.
“From 2003 to 2013, national fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were increasing at an average of about half of a point each year. 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 sustained decline we’re now seeing, especially among our most vulnerable students, simply cannot be allowed to continue,” Theodor Rebarber, author of the study, said.
“Several of us allied with Pioneer Institute have been pointing out, ever since it was introduced, the deeply flawed educational assumptions that permeate the Common Core and the many ways in which it is at odds with curriculum standards in top-achieving countries.”
Part of this, the news release says, “is a product of the misguided progressive pedagogies and biases of the education establishment that developed it.”
And this is the problem with Common Core: There was always a political element to it.
As the Pioneer Institute study said, “the design of the Common Core math standards assumed and promoted certain flawed progressive instructional assumptions and dogmas. Since the math standards generally rejected the proven approach of high-achieving Asian countries, the final Common Core standards no longer claimed to be ‘internationally benchmarked’ and indicated instead that they were merely ‘internationally informed.'”
English standards were even more problematic.
“The Common Core English standards also incorporated key progressive elements, such as a reduction in challenging, classic literary content and its replacement with simpler informational text supposedly intended to align with a student’s future activities in the workforce,” the study found.
This is Common Core, folks. Thanks to the Obama administration’s insistence on a national set of standards — which, of course, had progressive elements baked into them — we’ve seen math and reading scores collapse.
The more the federal government gets involved in education, the worse it works.
The scary thing for American parents shouldn’t be Common Core, though. It should be whatever ends up replacing it.
At least we can take some cold comfort in the fact that conservatives were right all along.
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