When President Trump was still campaigning to become President of the United States, he said that if he won he would eliminate the Common Core State Standards. Michigan billionaire and school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos, who is expected to be confirmed to her post as education secretary, also stated that she would work to put “an end to the federal Common Core” and let states determine their own standards.
However, our private tutors can tell you firsthand that since the initiative was voluntarily approved by state bodies, departments of education and legislatures, the Common Core standards are not under federal control and ultimately only state legislatures can eliminate them.
For those parents who might not be aware yet; the Common Core State Standards are a set of Math and English Language Arts standards that detail what students should know at the end of each grade. The goal of the standards is to ensure that students are adequately prepared to enter college or career programs, and individual school districts are responsible for choosing their own curriculum based on the standards.
As part of the federal Race to the Top initiative, former president Barack Obama offered federal funds to states that chose to adopt the standards when they were first developed. The Education Department also paid approximately $360 million to create standardized tests that aligned with the new Common Core standards.
However, it’s important to remember that the states were not required to accept federal money or the standards themselves. In fact, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska did not adopt the standards at all. Minnesota adopted the English Language Arts standards but not Common Core math. Indiana, Oklahoma, Florida, and South Carolina also decided to repeal or replace the standards after initially adopting them. Regardless, the vast majority of states still use the standards, partly due to the fact that they’ve already invested several million dollars and years of effort into program implementation and developing new assessment tests.
The Common Core standards, and the subsequently aligned assessments have become one of today’s most controversial topics in education. Some educators and researchers questioned the way the standards were written, if the content was appropriate for young children, and if there was enough input from teachers. Some critics have gone as far as to say that standards-based education has never been proven effective, while others felt the Obama administration eliminated local authority and demonstrated a “federal takeover” of public education.
According to the National Education Association, the Common Core State Standards are supported by 76% of its teacher members, and many other prominent researchers and educational leaders believe that they address mediocrity in previous standards and create a level playing field for students across the country to achieve the same level of quality education. On the other hand, many others point out that the Common Core standards have never been field-tested and that no one knows whether they will improve education.
Although adjusting to the initiative has been challenging, Common Core advocates believe that the clear expectations the standards set will ultimately positively affect students. Regardless, only time will tell exactly how President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may impact the future of Common Core.