The number of states participating in the consortia formed to develop tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has dropped sharply, a new study has found.
CCSS is a set of national standards dictating what students should know at the end of each grade level. The U.S. Department of Education awarded grants in 2010 to two consortia, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), to develop Common Core-aligned assessments.
The 2016 fall edition of Education Next, an education journal published by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, reports, “In 2010, the PARCC and SBAC consortia reported having 26 and 32 member states, respectively, representing diverse political environments,” but between 2011 and 2016, the number of states planning to use the new tests dropped from 45 to just 20, a 62 percent decline.
Education Next writes this figure is “in contrast” to the number of states that have officially revoked the CCSS, which stands at three.
Education Next reports the consortia-designed assessments have not fared as well as the actual Common Core standards because the tests’ implementation “became intertwined with new, controversial teacher evaluations and school accountability measures.”
Standardization ‘Not Necessarily Good’
Greg Forster, a senior fellow at EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, says the states’ rejection of the consortia shows standardization doesn’t automatically improve education.
“The key question is whether accountability is helped or hurt by uniformity,” Forster said. “A lot of people have adopted this very unsound idea that uniform standards must mean higher standards and better-administered standards. The Common Core experience is further evidence, if further evidence were needed, that standardization is not necessarily good for educational accountability. Every child is unique, and that’s why the parents who know them best and care about them most should be in charge of holding schools accountable for teaching them.”
Forster says the way CCSS was developed and implemented has brought about its demise.
“The whole Common Core system was cooked up in secret meetings behind closed doors by politicians and interest groups and imposed by heavy-handed federal bullying,” Forster said. “Some of the most prominent critics of Common Core are educational leaders who were approached for their ‘help’ designing it and then discovered to their dismay that no one in charge of the project cared a rip about what the really knowledgeable people had to tell them.”
Michigan state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has been leading an effort to end the authorization of the Common Core standards in his state and replace them with the standards Massachusetts used in 2008–09.
Pavlov says Common Core was bad from the start.
“It was misguided at the very beginning,” Pavlov said. “This is all about money and political power for rich individuals in America. It was jammed down the throat as bribery to the states. It’s bad for students, it’s bad for the parents, and it’s bad for the country.”
Forster says it’s up to parents to press for reform.
“Common Core is definitely accountable in one sense: Parents can organize to demand that their states stand up to federal bullying and leave the Common Core system. Education succeeds best when policymakers and educators put parents in charge.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.