New White Paper: “Why Students Need Strong Standards [And Not Common Core]”

Oct 7, 2014 by


The new American Principles Project white paper entitled “Why Students Need Strong Standards (and not Common Core)” dispels the myth that the Common Core math standards are better standards and shows that the new standards actually slow down American students’ math progression. 

The author of this new report, Ze’ev Wurman, is a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and former Senior Adviser at U.S. Department of Education.

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In other words, the rallying cry for the establishment of a common core of content standards in 2008 explicitly acknowledged that for the U.S. to be benchmarked against top-performing countries, we should teach algebra in the 8th grade. Yet ironically, when the Common Core standards were published a little more than a year later, in the early summer of 2010, they firmly placed the first algebra course in … high school!




…preparation of all K-7 students to take an Algebra 1 class in grade 8 benefits the minority and disadvantaged students the most. The explanation seems pretty obvious. When grade 8 Algebra is considered an accelerated course, students that get the required acceleration—tutoring, home support—come mostly from advantaged households. Only when everyone is prepared in grades K to 7 to reach algebra in grade 8 do the disadvantaged students get their chance to shine.


…early Algebra-taking translates directly into increased successful taking of advanced mathematics in high school—not only Geometry and Algebra 2 but even Advanced Placement Calculus AB and BC courses.




But the true travesty of the Common Core is its failure to deliver on its promise of a genuine

Algebra course in grade 8, and the devastating impact that failure is bound to have on the

achievement of minorities and disadvantaged students. Although politicians and administrators in many states promise to allow “acceleration” and to retain the 8th grade

Algebra courses they currently have, these are empty promises. Few, if any, schools will offer acceleration beyond the Common Core in the early grades, because the national Common Core tests will assess only the grade-level Common Core content at each grade in grades 3-8.




The result? Most grade 8 Algebra 1 classes in poor schools will soon close, when the pipeline of prepared students coming out of K-7 dries up, and STEM-bound students will come almost exclusively from advantaged backgrounds, whether in private or public schools. This will be the legacy of Common Core.




But the cruelest irony of the Common Core mathematics is in the huge negative impact it is bound to have on the achievement of minority and disadvantaged students. Those are precisely the students who need rigorous expectations from early elementary grades within their regular curriculum, as they are less likely to get family or paid extra-curricular support.


Massive and robust data from the California experiment over the last 15 years clearly demonstrates this fact. Yet despite its soaring rhetoric of college-readiness for all, the Common Core has abandoned precisely these students.



Ze’ev Wurman is visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution. Between 2007 and 2009 he served as a senior policy adviser with the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. Wurman served as a commissioner on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that in 2010 evaluated the Common Core’s suitability for California adoption.



Donna Garner

New White Paper: “Why Students Need Strong Standards [And Not Common Core]” | American Principles Project.

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