Myth v Fact: Correcting Misinformation about the Movement to Raise Standards:
The most commonly raised concerns about the movement to raise academic standards are often rooted in misinformation or are just plain inaccurate. That’s not to say that all of the concerns about these standards are invalid or that higher standards are the sole solution to improving schools across the United States. This important education reform initiative deserves a thoughtful, informed debate. Most important is to understand that there are good conservatives – who all care about kids and schools – on both sides of this issue. Below are facts in response to common myths.
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Myth v. Fact: Debunking the Most Frequently Spread Myths about Higher Standards
Myth: Common Core State Standards are a national mandate dictating a national curriculum.
Fact: Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum. States voluntarily chose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.
Myth: Common Core State Standards are not any better than existing state standards.
Fact: A Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, study showed that Common Core State Standards are superior to standards currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the new standards are superior in both math and reading. The shared standards will Increase accountability by providing transparent data that allows for true comparisons across state lines.
Myth: States’ current standards are sufficient for today’s students.
Fact: According to an analysis by ACT, three-fourths of young men and women entering college “were not adequately prepared academically for first year college courses.”
Myth: State tests aren’t broken. Common Core should not try to fix them.
Fact: A 2009 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – the Nation’s Report Card – found no state had reading proficiency standards as rigorous as those on the highly respected and internationally benchmarked NAEP 4th grade exam. Only one state, Massachusetts, had an 8th grade test as rigorous as the NAEP exam. Worse still, a large number of states had reading proficiency standards that would qualify their students as functionally illiterate on NAEP.
Myth: Common Core State Standards dictate what texts teachers will use for instruction.
Fact: Common Core State Standards define what students need to know; they do not define what teachers should teach or how students should learn. The standards will actually help preserve freedom for curriculum choice. These decisions are left to each state and local teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards will continue to make important decisions about curriculum and how their school systems are operated.
Myth: Common Core State Standards include Controversial Science Curriculum.
Fact: Contrary to purported myths about Common Core, these standards encompass only English Language Arts and Mathematics, focusing on improving needed critical thinking and analytic skills. State and local officials will continue to make important curriculum decisions when it comes to teaching History or specific issues such as Evolution and Intelligent Design, in line with what is right for their students and communities.
Claim: It’s not only public schools that must obey the fed’s dictates. Common Core will control the curriculum of charter schools, private schools, religious schools, Catholic schools and homeschooling.
Fact: While the Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked, rigorous, clear and straightforward enough to lend themselves easily to voluntary adoption by charter schools, private and faith-based schools and home schools, these entities will continue to have maximum flexibility on how and what they teach their kids. Whether schools of choice have to conform to state accountability policies remains a state, not a federal decision.
Myth: Common Core State Standards will cost more by requiring states to spend for training, tests, etc.
Fact: Common Core State Standards make economic sense. Improving the quality of education delivered in American classrooms through higher standards holds the potential to lessen the next generation’s reliance on our ever-expanding entitlement and corrections programs. Higher standards will prepare our future workforce for the global economy, strengthening our nation’s competitiveness. They will also save taxpayer money. In addition to reducing the need for costly remediation in college, Common Core will lead to more competition and innovation in the education marketplace, driving down costs for states and districts.
Myth: Common Core standards are an intrusion of student privacy rights and will allow student data to be inappropriately tracked.
Fact: As part of broader education reform efforts, states have adopted data systems that allow educators and parents to measure the progress of student achievement and growth from year to year. Regardless of adopting the Common Core, states remain in control of their students’ private information, just as they are now. The federal government does not have access to individual student-level data – just aggregate information by school on how kids are performing, a result of No Child Left Behind’s focus on accountability. States must remain vigilant in working with local school districts to continue protecting student information.
Myth: The federal government will take over ownership of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Fact: The federal government will not govern the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The initiative was and will remain a state-led effort.
Myth: The federal government made states adopt Common Core State Standards by threatening to withhold federal education dollars.
Fact: The federal government provided incentives through the optional Race to the Top program for states to adopt bold education reforms, including higher standards, but each state voluntarily made the decision to adopt Common Core and followed its own specific constitutional, legislative or administrative processes to do so. A state’s decision to adopt Common Core played a very minor role in the Race to the Top competitive scoring process (making up just 8 percent of an individual state’s score under the federal application).
Myth: The readings assigned in the CC English standards are 50 percent ‘informational’ texts instead of great American and English literature and classics. The result is that CC standards are very political.
Fact: Common Core State Standards continue to provide a heavy focus – at least 50 percent – on the reading and comprehension of great American and English literature classics, such as The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice.
Students will be required to read more ‘informational’ texts, which means reading original works, but which texts are read is left up to the teacher – just as it is today.
Examples of informational texts are: Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, President Ronald Reagan’s “Address to Students at Moscow State University,” and “The Declaration of Independence.” Other examples of informational texts are: Maps, charts, graphs, and info-graphics.
The increased focus on information and original texts is to prepare students for college and real world reading and writing requirements. For example, 80 percent of the reading and writing done in the workplace requires individuals to read material, analyze the material using critical thinking skills and articulately write or verbally respond to the material