Replacing Common Core: Choices and Tradeoffs

Published March 25, 2016

The coerced adoption of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by 46 states across the United States, often without public input, has generated tremendous controversy, concern, and efforts to repeal the standards.

Researchers and activists working with The Heartland Institute have supported this opposition from its earliest days with articles in School Reform News, policy briefs, booklets, testimony, and more. We continue to believe Common Core was a mistake, illegally imposed by the federal government, and should be ended.

But if Common Core standards were ended, what should replace them? State elected officials face several choices, among them:

  • Return to pre-existing state standards and tests,
  • Create new state standards and tests that do not largely rephrase or simply imitate CCSS,
  • Adopt the standards or tests of other states, such as Indiana, Massachusetts, and New York, which were highly regarded before they adopted CCSS.
  • Allow schools to choose the tests they administer, including among their options ACT, SAT, and pre-existing state tests.

Each of these choices faces the trade-offs described in this Heartland Policy Brief. The authors conclude:

We urge parents, educators, and elected officials to keep in mind that standardized achievement tests are helpful in public and private education to inform parents and other stakeholders about the performance levels of their schools. Standardized tests provide valuable consumer information, without which the statewide provision of education will continue to suffer and degrade.

Parents and other stakeholders of education often seek more flexibility at the local level. We think it entirely appropriate for school districts, public schools, private schools, and homeschools to have additional alternatives for adding standards and testing to their curricula. Local information will help parents and others make good choices among schools. Local tests, however, should be privately developed, and local schools, whether public or private, should be allowed to choose among a number of tests, so that choice and competition lead to higher quality tests.