Professors: Core standards fit college

Common Core Standards in math and English reflect skills needed in college, said instructors of entry-level college courses in a new study. Reaching the Goal asked instructors at two-year and four-year institutions about the standards’ relevance and importance to college-level classes in English, math, science and social science, as well as career courses in business, computers and health care. David Conley of the Educational Policy Improvement Center was the lead researcher.

The study was designed to validate the new standards, charges Common Core critic Ze’ev Wurman in comments.

The study was very careful not to ask the $64,000 questions: (a) Do the standards reflect a sufficient level of preparation for your course, and (b) do the standards reflect a better, or a worse, level of preparation as compared to your current requirements?

Instead the study asked about “coherent representation” of the subject, and about a “level of cognitive demand.” One can have a coherent representation of any subject, and even at a reasonable depth in certain areas, yet miss whole chunks of material.

In addition, the study doesn’t break down responses by two-year vs. four-year institutions or by courses, Wurman complains.  Ninety percent of instructors responded on math standards; almost 40 percent said the math standards aren’t “coherent.” One third of responders were language and literature professors who are unlikely to be strong judges of math coherence. That suggests 55 to 60 percent of math instructors found the math standards incoherent, Wurman estimates.


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  1. Whether right or wrong, thank you for giving Wurman a place for his considered words.

    Perhaps the standards are wise, but they are being sold like soap. As a result, my support of them is muted.

  2. As authors of this study, we welcome critiques of our work. We encourage Mr. Wurman and other readers to see our full response: