Dive Brief:

  • Reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have seen “historic declines” since states implemented the Common Core English and math standards, according to a new analysis by Pioneer Institute, a conservative Massachusetts think tank.
  • Prior to implementation of the Common Core, from 2003-2013, scores were on the slow rise in 4th and 8th grade at the rate of an average of half a point per year. For the past six years, however, 4th grade scores have fallen by less than half a point each year, and 8th-grade scores have fallen at nearly a whole point per year. Overall, math scores dropped at a faster rate than reading scores.
  • Losses among the lowest-achieving students “appear to have wiped out” their gains in decades prior to Common Core. Students who were performing in the 90th percentile, on the other hand, have continued to gradually improve, the report shows.

Dive Insight:

The report will likely strengthen the argument of policymakers pushing to move away from the standards. Florida, for example, recently dropped Common Core State Standards with an executive order from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The state has released new academic standards, expected to be implemented in the 2021-22 school year, that include changes to English and math instruction, emphasize civics education and streamline testing. Florida stakeholders drew inspiration from Minnesota, which developed its own math standards rather than using Common Core, and is a top-performing state in math.

South Carolina, Oklahoma and Indiana also repealed the standards, and the Trump administration doesn’t offer incentives for states to adopt Common Core, as the Obama administration did. But some states, such as Colorado, have also made revisions without a complete repeal.

Some experts see more positive outcomes since adoption of the standards. Michael Kirst, former president of the California State Board of Education, said Common Core has not failed in California. He said from 2015 to 2019, the percentage of California 3rd-graders that met or exceeded standards in English and math increased by 10%. California teachers are beginning to embrace Common Core, with more than twice as many California teachers and principals agreeing than disagreeing that the standards are more relevant, rigorous and improve college and career readiness.