Study Shows “Historic Declines” In U.S. Math and Reading Since Common Core


A new study has revealed that U.S. reading and math scores across several assessments have all seen “historic declines since most states implemented national Common Core English and math curriculum standards six years ago.”

On Monday, a news release announced the findings of a Pioneer Institute study titled “The Common Core Debacle.”

The Pioneer Institute is an independent, privately-funded research organization based in Massachusetts.

According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, the controversial standards were intended to ensure students of all ages gain the knowledge and skills needed “in order to graduate high school prepared to succeed in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses, and workforce training programs.”

The website also claims that “adopting common standards means bringing all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator” is a myth.

“The standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college, career, and life,” the initiative argues. “This will result in moving even the best state standards to the next level.”

The Pioneer Institute’s study, however, suggests that the exact opposite has turned out to be true.

The organization conducted the study by comparing fourth- and eighth-grade student achievement scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress after the implementation of Common Core to their scores before the standards were imposed on American schools in the early 2010s.

“From 2003 to 2013, national fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were increasing at an average of about half of a point each year,” the news release stated. “Since 2013, fourth-grade reading scores have been falling by less than half of a point each year, while eighth-grade scores have dropped by nearly a full point a year.”

The study also found that, on average, national math scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students were actually trending upward before the introduction of Common Core. Afterward, however, the study says that “scores at both grades have fallen, eighth grade at nearly the same rate as it was previously increasing.”

In the study’s conclusion, author Theodor Rebarber slammed the standards.

“The notion that a single set of national curriculum standards could be wielded by education policy elites — most with little experience operating successful schools — to create excellence in classrooms across America has been a dream for many decades. Except that now, it seems more like hubris,” Rebarber said.

“Before Common Core and before the earlier Congressional mandate on curriculum standards, states competed to design the best education reforms, including the best policies on curriculum and standards and local control,” Rebarber explained, removing the beneficially competitive nature of schools before the standards. “It was an entrepreneurial and vibrant atmosphere, some states did a better job in some areas, and other states picked up ideas from them. We also avoided a nation-wide debacle like Common Core.”

“With a more bottom-up approach,” Rebarber declared, “more school systems will have the opportunity to choose curricula consistent with our international competitors and many decades of research on effective classroom teaching.”

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