Common Core: Low-Quality and Intrusive

Published May 15, 2013

[Below is an excerpt of Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann’s May 15, 2013 testimony before the Pennsylvania State Senate’s Education Committee in opposition to the state adopting Common Core education standards. For the full testimony, please click on the PDF link above.]

Common Core supporters typically avoid two preliminary, fundamental observations about their pet project. First, there is no evidence that Common Core has benefitted students anywhere in the world because it, unlike state standards, has never been pilot tested. It is entirely experimental. Second, the evidence we have on the last 30 years of standards-based accountability is not promising. Even if Common Core was academically superb—and it is not—the Brookings Institution has found no statistical relationship between a state having high standards and high student achievement. “Every state already has standards placing all districts and schools within its borders under a common regime. And despite that, every state has tremendous within-state variation in achievement,” says the latest such report.[1] In fact, an analysis from Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek shows that states with higher standards tend to have lower student performance, when compared on the same test.[2] This is also true internationally: Countries with national standards both perform well and poorly.[3] There is also no evidence the massive increase in spending and standards-based, high-stakes testing forced on states by the federal government under No Child Left Behind has improved student achievement one whit.[4]

[1] “How Well Are American Students Learning?” Tom Loveless, Brookings Institution, Volume III, Number 1 (February 2012):

[2] “Is the Common Core Just a Distraction?” Eric Hanushek, Education Next, May 9, 2012:

[3] “One Size Fits None,” Jay Greene, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 11, 2010:

[4] “End It, Don’t Mend It: What to Do with No Child Left Behind,” Andrew J. Coulson and Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute, September 5, 2007: