Low academic standards have failed generations of children. According to an analysis by ACT, three-fourths of students entering college, taught under previous state standards “were not adequately prepared academically for first year college courses.”
Poor standards render high school diplomas meaningless. Existing state standards, even when met, are giving students—and their parents—a false sense of accomplishment. Students are not being prepared for college or for entering the workforce.
A lack of College and Career Readiness is costing families and taxpayers billions. An Alliance for Excellent Education analysis of college students enrolled during the 2007–08 school year estimates that remediation needs throughout their time in college cost the nation and the students an estimated $5.6 billion.
The new Common Core State Standards are a state-driven, voluntary initiative adopted by more than 45 states across the nation. They were not created by the federal government. Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum. States voluntarily choose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover.
Common Core Standards are higher, clearer, more rigorous and internationally benchmarked. They have been graded by academic standards experts at the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute as superior to existing standards in 39 states for math and 37 states for English.
Standards do not dictate curriculum. Common Core State Standards set high academic expectations in only the subjects of mathematics and English. They do not dictate curriculum – in other words, how teachers should teach, how students should learn or what instructional materials are used. The standards preserve freedom for curriculum choice for states, local districts and educators in the classroom.
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.
Shared high standards will increase transparency and accountability in education. Common Core paves the way for less regulation of schools – not more. Common Core will provide more transparency on the quality of our schools and arm local and state leaders with the information needed to make decisions for their classrooms and students. For the first time, truly comparable data will exist from state to state.
The call for raising standards is not new. President Eisenhower called for clearer standards in education in response to the Russians and Sputnik. President Reagan oversaw the landmark “Nation at Risk” report that found school standards were too low. By 2008, consensus formed among governors and chief state school officers that laid the ultimate groundwork for the Common Core initiative. President Obama may support this issue, but credit for this initiative belongs to bold, reform-minded governors across the country.