Secretary Betsy DeVos declares Common Core dead
“At the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said last month during her first major policy address of the year.
In an effort to back up President Trump’s Twitter statement in 2016 that Common Core is a “disaster,” DeVos said she supported school choice rather than a “federal first” model, the education system that's currently in use.
“It’s about educational freedom,” DeVos said. “Our societies and economies have moved beyond the industrial era, but the data tell us education hasn’t.”
DeVos said both No Child Left Behind and Common Core are ineffective at combating the major problems in American education and “distort” the relationships between teachers, students and parents.
“Why, after all the good intentions, the worthwhile goals, the wealth of expertise mustered and the billions and billions of dollars spent are students still unprepared?” DeVos said.
Common Core is the standard for testing English and math from elementary to high school for 45 states, Washington D.C. and two U.S. territories. According to statistics reported by the Huffington Post, Common Core caused a decline in the percentage of students considered prepared for college-level work in reading and math. The Post reported that only 37% of high school students were prepared for college in 2015, a decline from the 39% prepared for college math and the 38% ready for college-level reading.
On the other hand, The Atlantic reported almost the complete opposite, with scores skyrocketing from 34% in 2010 to 54% in 2013, thanks to Common Core.
These two reports can contradict each other because no data requirement exists for measuring Common Core’s effectiveness, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any data that is collected is up to each state.
Professor of education Joanne Higginbotham said people’s frustration with Common Core might lie in their issues with a test-based system.
“One of the problems people see is that they have to focus a lot on testing rather than teaching students in the way they would like,” Higginbotham said. “But the standards themselves aren’t bad.”
People often become disgruntled with the notion of learning only to be tested and not for education. According to CNS News, 49% of Americans and only 40% of teachers currently say they support the Common Core State Standard.
Despite this, the Common Core State Standards Initiative said the standards are informed by state standards already in place, the experience of teachers and feedback from the public.
Elementary education graduate student Tyler Waters said the standards Common Core holds students to are not necessarily bad.
“It is important for students to learn the skills taught to them in school,” Waters said. “It is good for them to be tested on it so that teachers can make sure they are understanding all of the material, that they are prepared for the next course or grade and also so that teachers can learn what ways of teaching are working for the students.”