Why Race to the Middle? First-Class State Standards are Better than Third-Class National Standards

Mickey Muldoon

Ze'Ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky
Pioneer Institute and Pacific Research Institute
February 2010

This is an unforgiving analysis of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) that will energize ideological opponents of national standards. But please take it easy, at least for a few more days. This critique is based on drafts from several iterations ago. (Final drafts--but still drafts--will see daylight next week, we are assured, and a public-comment period will then commence.) The authors’ complaints are numerous, beginning with the ambiguity of the CCSSI’s “College and Career Ready” mantra, and ending with bad wording, incorrect statements, and gaps in the draft year-by-year sequences. Central to their case is a comparative graphical representation of thirty-two key math standards derived from extent standards in California, Massachusetts, the CCSSI draft, and high-performing countries. The CCSSI standards show some (though not many) gaps in their coverage. Thus, conclude the authors, the “First-Class State Standards” found in CA and MA are superior. (Mind you, the CA and MA standards are superior to those from the 48 other states, too.) The authors also take particular offense at the dearth of English majors and English teachers among the CCSSI drafting committees, and go out of their way to jab at the Gates Foundation, which has been behind many of the moving parts that comprise the CCSSI. As for us, we’ll wait another week and check out the actual “drafts” for ourselves. Find the report here.

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