Friday, October 19, 2018

Common Core Is Failing

Some people want to make America great again. Some educators want to make American schoolchildren stupid. With the best of intentions. They want to do so by dumbing down the school curriculum, by imposing nationalized standards, and by emphasizing social justice indoctrination. It was supported by the Obama administration and by a bored billionaire. How’s that working out?

Paula Bolyard reports the latest results of the ACT tests. What are the ACT tests? Bolyard explains:

Let's begin by explaining what the ACT measures. According to the website, "The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test that measures the skills taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses." The data obtained in the survey "allow ACT to ensure that its assessments measure the skills most important for success after high school."

The ACT determines those skills "based on the results of the ACT National Curriculum Survey, a nationwide survey of educators conducted every three to four years," according to the folks at ACT. The survey results "identify what is important for high school graduates to know and be able to do when they enter college."

What did we learn from the 2018 ACT test results? For one, we learned that American schoolchildren are doing worse:

The creators of the ACT test announced on Wednesday that scores for the class of 2018 are the worst reported in decades. Math scores, in fact, are in freefall among ACT-tested U.S. high school graduates, falling to their lowest mark in 14 years, according to The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2018, the ACT’s annual report.

On math, these children are mostly not prepared for college level math. One should add that they are also not ready to compete with their peers in other countries:

"The percentage of ACT-tested graduates who met or surpassed the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in math—suggesting they are ready to succeed in a first-year college algebra class—fell to its lowest level since 2004," the report declared, with only 40 percent of 2018 graduates meeting the benchmark, "down from a high of 46% in 2012."

As for English, the results are equally abysmal:

"Readiness in English has also been trending down over the past several years, dropping from 64% in 2015 to 60% this year, the lowest level since the benchmarks were introduced," according to the report. "Readiness levels in reading (46%) and science (36%) were both down one percentage point from last year but are showing no long-term trends either upward or downward. Science remains the subject area in which students are least likely to be prepared for college coursework."

What’s wrong with the way Americans teach their children? Bolyard asks:

Are students dumber than they were a decade ago or is there a problem with the teaching methods and curriculum?

Is it fair to blame it on Common Core? Bolyard says that it is.

Now comes news that less than a decade after the implementation of Common Core, rather than the improved test scores were promised, we're seeing a progressive decline in student achievement.

She quotes an Ohio state representative on the troubles created by Common Core:

Ohio state Representative Andy Thompson, a vocal critic of Common Core, told PJM that although the standards are not completely to blame for the decline in test scores, Common Core "is a significant factor."

"I think testimony we took during our attempts to eradicate Common Core showed the dumbing down of curriculum, the social justice indoctrination, the emphasis on social-emotional learning, reduced quantity and quality of reading, emphasizing screen time rather than classroom instruction," Thompson said. He explained that the "destruction of proper math has also been a contributing factor." Common Core proponents, he said, "place a higher priority on indoctrination than education."

We have written about Common Core in the past. On many occasions. Here’s a link to our posts. You will find therein evidence of our prescience... if we don't say so ourselves.


Derek Ramsey said...

The first problem is teaching to the test. This was cemented by No Child Left Behind, one of the most ironically named pieces of legislation. Rather than state standards and testing being the minimum for standard for schools to attain, it becomes the maximum standard; the target. Once the yearly testing is completed, there is no incentive to teach. It's not unusual for the kids to watch movies in the classroom once the state testing is completed. There are also a shocking number of half-days-that-count-as-whole-days scattered throughout the year. No child gets ahead and the children who are truly behind (i.e. those exempt from test taking) are neglected.

The second problem is bureaucracy, including unions. Most administrators, including many teachers, just don't care about educating. Moreover, money sent to schools is increasingly used for things that don't benefit the students, especially for the expansion of administrators and their programs. This is well documented.

And the third problem is the Common Core curriculum. It's truly awful in hundreds of ways. This is also well documented.

Unfortunately I get to experience all these things with my five children.

Sam L. said...

I suspect texting is harming English study and usage. Shouldn't affect math, though.
Some might say it's all a Leftist plot, but I will only allude to the possibility thereof.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

If the goal is a 100% high school graduation rate, and, more extreme, 100% college graduation rate, the curriculum must be dumbed down for the slowest and lowest. It's the educational version of socialist economics wherein egalitarianism is achieved when (almost) everyone is equally poor. There are a number of popular Progressive ways to engineer schoolwork that meet those graduation criteria, all of which involve focus on feelings, "personal growth", "creativity", "discovery", cultural "wisdom", and "activism".

Last time I bothered to look, 40% of college freshpersons (??) were enrolled in remedial English, math, or both. I had a brief post-retirement adjunct gig teaching Intro Stats to sophmores and up, some of whom didn't know about order of operations. Unwitting ignoramuses cannot be taught statistics.

Derek Ramsey said...

"Is it fair to blame it on Common Core?"

Yes, but that's only because of the synergistic effect. Common Core is the most effective tool used to implement No Child Gets Ahead. It is simultaneously the primary reason for the decline but also not the only primary reason.

"40% of college freshpersons (??) were enrolled in remedial English, math, or both."

Considering how bad it is in my >95% white, middle-to-upper-middle-class area, I can't even imagine how bad the schools are in under-served and poor areas.

20 years ago my college literature course was a ridiculous cakewalk compared to my private high school classwork. I'm sure it's only gotten much worse.

Sam L. said...

"Is it fair?" To a high degree, I say YES. The "Progressives" hate everyone.

As I've said before, "progressive" always makes me think of cancer.