Brookings: Common Core won’t boost achievement

Common Core standards “will have little to no effect on student achievement,” predicts Tom Loveless, in How Well are American Students Learning?, a report by Brookings’ Brown Center on Education Policy. The quality or rigor of state standards doesn’t correlate with students’ reading or math performance on NAEP, Loveless concludes.

“State standards have really never been able to penetrate down to the classroom and affect teaching and learning.  Common Core advocates believe this time is different.  I’m skeptical that their project has some secret ingredient that previous standards lacked.”

Standards represent the intended curriculum, “what governments want students to learn,” Loveless writes. Then there’s the implemented curriculum, “what teachers teach.”

Two fourth-grade teachers in classrooms next door to each other may teach multiplication in vastly different ways and with different degrees of effectiveness. State policies rarely touch such differences. The attained curriculum is what students learn.

Standards peak in popularity when first proposed, then nosedive when “tests are given and consequences kick in,” Loveless writes. Common Core is already losing support.

The report also looks at achievement gaps on NAEP and the tendency to misinterpret international test scores.

Education Next is hosting a discussion on Common Core math standards today.

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  1. “The quality or rigor of state standards doesn’t correlate with students’ reading or math performance on NAEP”.
    I said this more than ten years ago (2000-Feb.-20, google groups I took the grades that the Fordham Institute and the Education Trust gave to States for their standards, converted these into numbers o a 0-4 point scale, and used EXCEL to compute the coefficient of correlation between these numbers and States’ NAEP scores. The coefficient of correlation was weakly negative (States with As and Bs for standards did worse than States with Ds and Fs).
    Also, the connection between district-level teacher credential requirements and NAEP scores in negative (the larger the fraction of districts that mandate Praxis, the lower the NAEP mean score. Praxis is a proxy for “degree in Education”).
    The factor which most strongly influences school success (defined as test score gains between 10th and 12th grad), after parent SES, according to Chubb and Moe is a composite variable they call “the degree of institutional autonomy”.
    Give to principals the power to define for their own schools the credential requirements of teachers, and give to parents the power to determine which institution, if any, shall receive the taxpayers’ K-12 education subsidy.