The ‘Fill in the Blank’ Op Ed(s) by Fordham Institute on Why States *Need* Common Core
Visit MEW tomorrow for a guest post about a Common Core editorial from Fordham Institute’s Robert Pondiscio and Michael Petrilli that recently appeared in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. From Missouri: Don’t shoot the messenger:
Five long years ago, Missouri and more than 40 other states adopted the Common Core standards in reading and math, setting dramatically higher expectations for students in our elementary and secondary schools. Now we’ve reached a critical milestone in this effort. Missouri parents just received for the first time their children’s scores on new tests aligned to the standards, and taxpayers got a look at results statewide. The news was sobering, and surely came as a shock for many. Middle school math, in particular, was a disappointment, with less than 40 percent of students scoring at the proficient level. English language arts wasn’t much better. Let us explain why parents and taxpayers shouldn’t shoot the messenger.
First, it’s important to remember why so many states started down this path in the first place. Under federal law, every state must test children every year in grades 3-8 to ensure they are making progress. That’s a good idea. Parents deserve to know if their kids are learning, and taxpayers are entitled to know if the money we spend on schools is being used wisely.
But it is left to states to define what it means to be “proficient” in math and reading. Unfortunately, most states set a very low bar. They juked the stats.
The result was a comforting illusion that most children were on track to succeed in college, carve out satisfying careers, and stand on their own two feet. To put it plainly, it was a lie. Imagine being told year after year that you’re doing just fine, only to find out when you apply for college or a job, that you’re simply not as prepared as you need to be.
Such experiences were not isolated cases. Every year, almost two-thirds of Missouri’s community college students must take remedial courses when they arrive on campus. Many of those students will leave without a degree, or any kind of credential. That’s a lousy way to start one’s life.
The problem is the ‘fill in the blank’ op ed (similarly worded op eds appeared in Connecticut and West Virginia) misrepresents Missouri’s remediation rate quoted above. While WVA or CT may have 70% remediation, that does not hold true for Missouri. But why be worried if the content is not accurate? The message that Common Core is better than a state’s constitutional power to direct educational policies is paramount. Whether you are labeled ShowMe parents in Missouri, Mountain State parents in WVA or just parents in Connecticut, this message is the same:
From stltoday: The Common Core should help to boost college readiness — and college completion — by significantly raising expectations, starting in kindergarten. But we shouldn’t be surprised that Missouri found that less than 40 percent of its middle school students are on track for college. In fact, that’s what we should expect. Show-Me State parents, in other words, are finally learning the truth.
In the commentary “Missouri: Don’t shoot the messenger” (Sept. 1), Michael J. Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio accidentally make a great case against the Common Core.
Opponents of the standards have argued that supporters are out of touch with the reality on the ground and are trying to force a one-size-fits-all solution onto the diverse landscape of the American education system. So when two prominent supporters of the standards take to the pages of the Post-Dispatch, what do they do? They demonstrate that they are out of touch with the reality on the ground and then try to push a one-size-fits-all solution.The authors’ central argument — that Missouri had low testing standards before the adoption of the Common Core — is simply wrong. Missouri has had a strong state assessment for years. Harvard researcher Paul Peterson has consistently rated Missouri standards as some of the best in the country for accurately representing the educational achievement of Missouri students.