Common Core Effectiveness: Show me the data!

Published August 25, 2013 by Vida Caramela
Four-color map of the united states

Four-color map of the united states (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sold on the idea of common core standards from the first time I heard that they were being developed. The low level of expectations, I had witnessed in some of the schools where I’d worked  in the past, was appalling. Whenever I would try to introduce rigor, high expectations and authentic assessment, I would be attacked and criticized. It seemed as though the school leaders and parents were more interested in appearances (high grades on report cards) than in actual student growth and academic excellence. They believed that the level of instruction and the way the students were being evaluated was perfectly acceptable. In fact, they were proud of the level of achievement that their students were reaching. Eventually, I got a position at a screened school where everyone truly understood the importance of rigor, and high expectations. My 7th graders were performing at higher academic levels than the ninth and 10th graders were in my former schools. My constant thought was, these kids could run circles around those kids. The most interesting thing is that my current school is a Title-one public school, located in an urban neighborhood. The majority of students are members of underserved populations, and for the most part, do not seem to be more intelligent than the students in my former schools, they just seem to be more motivated, and committed than their counterparts. I see the implementation of a common set of standards as a way to ensure that all U.S students are on a level playing field, and can compete globally. As for the question of how effective the Common Core Standards we’ve adopted will be, we have yet to find out. As with all new concepts, the way to answer that question is to prototype it, field test it on a small scale and work out the bugs, then refine or rework it and test it again. The process can be repeated until the desired outcome is achieved. Only then is the concept introduced to the wider public and monitored for effectiveness. Here’s the part I really like. Even after it is tested on the population at large, if it doesn’t work, it does not have to be considered a failure. There will be lessons learned that can help in making revisions, or in selecting alternatives. I do not know anything about the prototyping and pilot testing of the Common Core State Standards. Maybe that’s partly my fault, because I haven’t made it my business to know. Today, I checked out the comments section on Diane Ravitch’s Blog post entitled “The Biggest Fallacy of the Common Core Standards: No Evidence” ( ). I read a comment from a Dr. Jen Anderson which asserted that the CCSS was piloted for 3 years in Michigan and was effective in preparing teachers and in making students more successful. I replied with a request for hard evidence (data from the pilot), to which Dr. Anderson responded by sending the following links:

Other commenters on the blog insist that there are no pilot studies and/or no valid data that proves the effectiveness of the common core standards.

Hopefully the sites Dr. Anderson shared will provide me with some answers. I’ll let you know later


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