Myth vs. Reality: Common Core State Standards
Posted 8/14/13; updated 1/9/14
Misleading information about the Common Core State Standards has been circulated in Mississippi over the last several months. Some of it is based on talking points from groups that have carried out an anti-public schools, privatization agenda in other states. The stated goal of opponents in Mississippi is to pause or halt implementation of Common Core State Standards in our schools.
The Parents' Campaign fully supports Mississippi's adoption of higher, college- and career-ready standards. Known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), they are designed to ensure that our students are learning the same important concepts and developing the same essential skills as students in the world's top performing countries.
Mississippi educators have invested substantial time and resources to prepare for the implementation of Common Core. Many school districts already have transitioned fully to a new curriculum based on these more rigorous academic standards. We applaud educators' efforts to move our students to a higher level of competence and look forward to the long-term results of the deeper learning and higher order thinking that Common Core is bringing to our classrooms.
What Common Core Means for Mississippi
Myth: Common Core State Standards are lower than Mississippi's current standards.
Reality: There is an overwhelming body of evidence from national and international experts that the Common Core State Standards are higher, in most cases much higher, than existing state standards. For example, many concepts that were taught in Algebra II under our old standards are taught in Algebra I under Common Core. Read more here. It is also worth noting that parents who have read the standards immediately recognize the increased difficulty. A quote from a parent whose child attends an A school in a B district: "Common Core is unquestionably more challenging than our old standards. My child is having to work very hard to catch up to the new expectations for math. Fortunately, our school district has great teachers I believe will help her meet the higher hurdles over the next few years."
Myth: Mississippi has not completed an alignment, or comparison, of the Common Core State Standards to the existing state standards, so it is impossible to tell if the new standards are more rigorous.
Reality: A comprehensive alignment comparing the Common Core State Standards to existing standards was completed in 2010. See the comparison of standards for tested grades here and for non-tested grades here.
Myth: Common Core is a federal mandate that brings more government intrusion into our local schools.
Reality: Initiated in 2008, when President George W. Bush was in office, the Common Core State Standards grew out of a joint effort by the National Governor's Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was a member of the NGA at the time and has been a vocal proponent of the Common Core State Standards. Mississippi voluntarily chose to adopt the standards in 2010; we have not received any federal funding that requires the adoption of the standards. The federal government was not involved in the process of developing the standards. Local school boards will retain their authority over districts.
Myth: Mississippi adopted the new standards without the proper review or public input.
Reality:Mississippi adopted the new standards under the same procedures it has used when updating academic standards in the past. The State Board of Education received public comments before final adoption on August 20, 2010, and public forums were held across the state to present information about the Common Core State Standards.
Myth: Common Core was developed in secret without public input.
Reality: The National Governors Association and Council for Chief State School Officers led the development of Common Core State Standards. Experts in English Language Arts and Mathematics, including academicians from the university level and K-12 (including some Mississippians), participated in the drafting of standards. Almost 10,000 public comments were received in response to release of the draft standards; the feedback was evaluated and incorporated into the final standards. Myth: Common Core will be too expensive to implement.
Reality: Any time we move to a higher standard, there are costs associated with training teachers. Mississippi school districts already have absorbed most of this cost as they have implemented the Common Core over the last several years. Overturning the standards at this point would be a tremendous waste of the resources that already have been invested.
Myth: The new Common Core assessments will cost too much.
Reality: Because Mississippi is sharing the cost of developing the new, more complex assessments, we are getting a tremendous bargain. The new assessments move away from multiple-choice, computer-scored assessments that measure basic skills and facts to the more sophisticated model used in top-performing countries. These more sophisticated assessments measure complex problem solving that requires students to demonstrate knowledge and skills from several fields of study - the same kinds of tasks that are required of adults in better-paying jobs. Read about Mississippi's testing costs here. Mississippi could not begin to afford these higher-level assessments were we to develop our own. We would do our children a disservice if we chose to return to the rote memorization and regurgitation of facts that are measured by simple, cheaper, multiple choice tests. Read what renowned education reform expert Marc Tucker says here.
Myth: Mississippi has set racial quotas for the new Common Core assessments and has set the bar lower for black students than for other students.
Reality: There is no racial quota in the new assessments. The standards are the same for every student. Common Core opponents are confusing the Common Core standards with the federal accountability waiver, which addresses improvement in test scores among all students as well as among different subsets of students. The federal accountability waiver will apply to our system of accountability, regardless of whether we adopt the Common Core or another set of standards, and neither the waiver nor the standards set racial “quotas” as has been alleged.
Myth: If Mississippi students perform poorly on the new assessments next year, it will prove that Common Core is a failure.
Reality: A few states that were early adopters of Common Core already have measured their students' performance using preliminary assessments aligned to the CCSS. In the first year of assessments on the higher standards, these states had a significant decrease in the number of students scoring proficient. Similar results are expected for other states, including Mississippi, not because students are learning less, but because they are being challenged at a higher level. Mississippi students can learn at the same level as students in the top performing countries, but it is a steeper climb that will take time to accomplish.
Click here for information from the Mississippi Department of Education.