Paul Thomas: Why States’ Decision to Drop Common Core Is No Cause for Celebration

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From: Diane Ravitch’s blog

By dianeravitch

Paul Thomas explains here why the growing movement to drop the Common Core is strangely disappointing. Oklahoma has dropped Common Core for sure, and other states are making tentative moves in that direction. Whether they will drop CCSS or rebrand it is not clear.

As Paul explains, the dissident states are not dropping CCSS and replacing it with a fresh strategy to address the needs of children. No, they are dropping the national standards-testing-accountability approach and replacing it with a home-grown standards-testing-accountability approach. The differences will be marginal at best.

Whether created in DC or in the state, the testing approach operates on the flawed and frankly hopeless belief that more testing will lead to higher achievement. After more than a decade of NCLB, we have no reason to believe that testing and accountability will change the fundamental problems of American education, which are rooted in poverty. Whether the tests are national or state, the bottom range of the distribution will be heavily weighted with children who are poor, who have disabilities, who don’t read English, or have other issues that testing and accountability will not change.

As I have noted on other occasions, Tom Loveless of Brookingsexplained in 2012 that standards by themselves don’t matter all that much. Loveless wrote then: “On the basis of past experience with standards, the most reasonable prediction is that the common core will have little to no effect on student achievement.” The biggest variation in test scores is within states, not between them. States with high standards have achievement gaps; states with high standards may have low academic performance. Tests measure gaps, they don’t close them.

Exchanging national standards for state standards won’t change the underlying conditions, which we used to call “root causes.” So long as we ignore the root causes of low performance (however it is measured), we will not improve education. We need a new paradigm for educational improvement, not just a switch from doing the wrong thing at the national level to doing the wrong thing at the state level.

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