Last week, Tom Loveless penned an Education Week op-ed where he (again) argued that the Common Core standards don’t matter—that the quality of a state’s standards has little correlation with how well students in that state fare on the NAEP.
Loveless’s main point—which is mostly right—is that statewide standards implementation has not led to dramatic student achievement gains. He notes, for instance, that “from 2003 to 2009, states with terrific standards raised their National Assessment of Educational Progress scores by roughly the same margin as states with awful ones.”
It’s not easy to get right, but when effectively implemented this playbook gets results.
Yet, we do know that teachers, schools, and even districts that set high standards for student learning, hold teachers and principals accountable for reaching specified goals, align curriculum and instruction to the standards, and intentionally use short- and long-term data to drive instruction are able to make significant gains for kids. It’s not easy to get right, but when effectively implemented this playbook gets results. At least on the school and district level.
Therein lies the challenge: we have yet to see equally dramatic results on the state level.
Of course, we at Fordham have long argued that standards alone won’t drive achievement—they need to be linked to meaningful implementation and accountability to have any hope to impact student learning.
Loveless does try to address this by arguing that existing standards—good and bad—have been implemented. He reasons:
Past standards-setters were neither as naive nor passive as...