Common Core is worsening the achievement gap

Nov 1, 2015 by

In the Washington, D.C. hospital where my late Aunt Alice worked for decades, there was a persistent rumor among the nurses that patients whose bills were paid out of the Community Chest were slipped a mysterious “black pill” by a doctor on staff to hasten their deaths. Whether the story was true or an urban legend, I cannot say. If there is any truth to the story, someone needs to find that doctor and his stash of pills.

Civil rights groups and education reformers believed standardized testing would close the “achievement gap” separating the high-performing suburban schools from the troubled inner city schools where fewer than half of students graduate. David Coleman, a principal author of the Common Core standards who taught in Illinois public schools and is now president of the College Board, has said that the purpose of the more “rigorous” testing was to end “white privilege.”

If that was the hidden agenda behind Common Core, it has backfired as 98.5 percent of high schools in Illinois, where Mr. Coleman taught, and six out of every 10 elementary schools, have been deemed failures by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to meet the new proficiency levels. Of the eight high schools which met proficiency levels, all were located in the suburban Lake Forest school district nestled on Lake Michigan where white students comprise 75 percent of the student population and African American and Hispanic students make up 2 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

In San Juan, an economically-disadvantaged community in Northern California, only 21 percent of students made the passing grade, as opposed to 53 percent of their peers in the Davis, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove and more prosperous Sacramento schools district, according to a penetrating statistical analysis of test scores conducted by the Sacramento Bee.

Nowhere was the gap more evident than in New York City where test scores for all students dropped 31 points. Adle Schroder, principal of P.S. 59 on East 59th Street, stated: “When I first looked at the test, I was just in shock. I was having trouble with my fellow teachers — we sat around and tried to answer some of the questions — and I thought, this is ridiculous. I’m an adult, I should be able to answer these questions. If it’s hard for me, these poor kids — they must be incredibly confused.” In 2012, there was a 12-point gap separating African-American students from their peers in 3rd grade English Language/Arts. As of 2013, that gap had widened to 14 points for African-American students and 18 points for Hispanics. Most alarmingly, the gap in ELA increased from 15.5 to 50 percent.

Conventional wisdom among school officials is that Common Core will be gone in a year. But its effects will haunt America’s inner cities like a cold spot for decades to come. It’s time for Gov. Larry Hogan to slip these standards that fabled pill to hasten the end (“Hogan makes appointments to school testing review panel,” Oct. 27).

Source: Common Core is worsening the achievement gap – Baltimore Sun

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