Biddle on the Importance of the Common Core
Biddle on the Common Core:
Opponents of Common Core reading and math standards often argue that they won’t help improve student achievement and that they will stifle innovation in developing curricula. Yet these critics ignore data against both contentions – and fail to remember the importance of providing all children with high-quality education.
Common Core is the only high-quality national standard on the table, and yet its foes ignore the role that high-quality curriculum standards (along with other reforms) have played in improving student progress at the state level. As two researchers pointed out in a recent study, states that improved their math standards reduced the number of students scoring “below basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress by 26 percentage points from 2003 to 2011. Improvement in reading standards is also why 217,432 fewer fourth-graders were functionally illiterate in 2011 than in 2003.
Common Core opponents also fail to realize that there is little innovation in curriculum development in the first place. Save for some amazing work being done by Native American educators, most curricula are hardly groundbreaking. More important, national standards may allow for more innovation because there are now commonly agreed-upon content areas around which curriculum developers can rally.
What needs to be remembered is that standardizing curricula is one of the key solutions for stemming the number of children who drop out of school and into poverty and prison. This can reduce the cost of social services provided by states, and ameliorate the consequences the long-term federal budget cuts we should expect.
We can no longer continue letting teachers, districts, and states do their own thing when it comes to curriculum with almost no success – and at great cost, when fewer than half the high school dropouts over 24 are participating in the work force.