The latest Nation’s Report Card (formally the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP) results find just 37 percent of U.S. twelfth graders performed well enough in math and reading to indicate they would do well in college, a slight dip from the last round of scores in 2013. As always, everyone has a theory as to why. Some say it’s because percentages of black and Hispanic students are increasing, and these minorities perform dramatically worse on NAEP tests than their white and Asian peers.
“The students at the top of the distribution are going up and the students at the bottom of the distribution are going down,” Peggy Carr, one of the test’s commissioners, told The Wall Street Journal. “There is a widening of the gap between higher and lower-ability students.”
Education Secretary John King says it’s because, six years after governments mandated Common Core, teachers are still “retooling their classroom practices to adapt.” That’s what former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said upon similar results two full years ago. It must take a long time to phase in Common Core – which is another argument against it, given that American children have now spent nearly half their school careers being Common Core’s guinea pigs.
Former U.S. Education Department official Ze’ev Wurman has another explanation for the NAEP score decline, telling Breitbart: “The only plausible explanation for such an unprecedented broad national decline is the Common Core.” Cato Institute education scholar Neal McCluskey is more measured, but his conclusion points in the same direction:
lots of things affect test scores – federal policies, state policies, local policies, economics, demographic changes, etc. – and we can’t ignore all those things and just declare whatever policy we happen to dislike the undisputed villain. But one thing is clear, no matter how you feel about Common Core or anything else: NAEP tests continue to produce awful results for the students who are about to finish K–12 education … despite huge increases in spending over the decades, as well as heavily centralized control.
It is now painfully obvious that continually socializing our education system is not going to benefit American children or society. Neither are pitifully sized school choice programs that allow the state to co-opt private schools by measuring them using Common Core tests. The United States is spending down the future through massive debt lawmakers are using to fund ineffective schools.
The time to address this failure of public education – through serious decentralization measures, such as universal school choice programs that require public schools to compete on a level playing field with charters, private schools, and more specialized private providers – was 50 years ago. The second-best time is now. America doesn’t have money and children to waste.
SOURCES: Breitbart.com, The Pulse, The Wall Street Journal
IN THIS ISSUE:
- DC: Washington DC’s Democratic mayor and city council are crossing the aisle to support House Speaker Paul Ryan’s bid to keep DC’s vouchers alive, despite opposition from President Barack Obama. More in-depth information on the program from Jason Bedrick.
- LOUISIANA: Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to cut the state voucher program’s funding after having said he wouldn’t reduce school choice.
- NEW HAMPSHIRE: Lawmakers are considering how to continue allowing a small town to let children use local tax dollars to attend private schools since no public school for grades 5 through 12 is locally available.
- POPE: Pope Francis says school choice is a fundamental right of parents.
- CHARTERS: The Walton Foundation, the nation’s third-largest education-focused philanthropy, is shifting its charter school spending strategy, pulling money from cities such as Chicago and Newark and redirecting funds to what it thinks are more promising environments. Further, 78 percent of parents support having a charter school to open in their neighborhood and the idea of being allowed to attend any public school they want, regardless of school boundaries, finds a new poll.
- BIAS: A national organization for education reporters features a more than ten-to-one bias in favor of Common Core among the “expert” sources it recommends and features.
- MICHIGAN: A bill to repeal and replace Common Core with Massachusetts’ nation-leading former standards is moving forward in the state legislature.
- WYOMING: The state has dropped national Common Core tests as it seeks a new vendor.
- TENNESSEE: The state has canceled all standardized testing for grades 3 through 8 this spring and fired its testing vendor after a series of disabling technical problems.
- NORTH DAKOTA: The state will rewrite Common Core, says its new superintendent.
- NEW YORK: Private tutors report their clientele has doubled because of Common Core, with parents and children both distressed by wacky math configurations.
- WEST VIRGINIA: An in-state leader explains why a Common Core repeal bill failed to pass during this legislative session.
- PISA: One of two major international tests is moving away from measuring academic knowledge and into measuring soft skills such as students’ motivations, resilience, and other psychological attributes.
- DATA TRACKING: The Obama administration has released an updated model of even more-expanded data on children it wants government agencies to collect and has expanded the data it hands out to researchers. And LGBT activists are using federal data to name and shame religious colleges that maintain sex-separate private facilities.
- FLORIDA, ILLINOIS: A local Florida school board passed a policy requiring students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex. Parents and activist groups on both sides are lawyering up. Chicago Public Schools, on the other hand, will allow transgender students to use whichever facilities they wish and provide privacy screens to any students who want them.
- HIGHER EDUCATION: The average debt load college students graduate with has reached a new record at $37,000 per student, but starting wages also have increased.
- CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: Catholic schools are seeing a resurgence of interest when they offer an alternative to Common Core with a classical curriculum.
- GEORGIA: Gov. Nathan Deal is building upon earlier prison reforms by signing a new law authorizing charter schools in prisons to help inmates earn high school diplomas.
- COLORADO: The surprisingly large testing opt-out movement may have a difficult time maintaining momentum during this spring’s testing season, and here’s why.
- ILLINOIS: The Chicago Teachers Union is considering another strike to maintain current rates of spending as lawmakers grapple with massive debt problems.
- SOUTH CAROLINA: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would secure parents’ rights to opt their children out of tests.
- VERMONT: Taxpayers are about to be on the hook for a pilot preschool program jumpstarted by a federal grant.