This article was published more than 2 years ago
The Common Core State Standards was one of the biggest initiatives in decades aimed at changing public education — and like many school “reforms” in the era of high-stakes standardized testing, it did not accomplish what its promoters said it would.
How and why that happened is the subject of a new book by Tom Loveless, an expert on student achievement, testing, education policy and K-12 school reform — “Between The State And The Schoolhouse: Understanding The Failure of Common Core.” Below is an excerpt.
Common Core was an initiative to create and implement new math and English language arts standards that would be used by all schools. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded their creation, and they were promoted by the Obama administration.
Then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan used a federal grant program, Race to the Top, to pressure states to adopt them — and the vast majority did during Obama’s first term. The Obama administration spent some $360 million for two multistate consortia to develop new Core-related standardized tests, with Duncan promising that the new tests would be “an absolute game-changer” in public education. They weren’t.
Common Core started as a bipartisan effort, but support began to wane amid problems with implementation and other issues. After several years, states began to abandon them or rewrite them with different names. Though some states still do use them or other standards based on the Core, the results have not turned out to be what their creators and supporters had hoped.
Loveless, a former sixth-grade teacher and Harvard policy professor, explains in his book why the lessons of the failure of the Core initiative remain relevant today.
Loveless was a senior fellow in governance studies and director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Washington-based nonprofit Brookings Institution. He wrote 16 volumes of “The Brown Center Report on American Education,” an annual report analyzing important trends in education.
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Here is part of the book’s introduction from Loveless’s “Between The State And The Schoolhouse: Understanding The Failure of Common Core,” published by Harvard Education Press. Footnotes have been removed below.