Michigan Students Fail to Improve Under Common Core



Students attending K-12 public schools in Michigan are failing to improve on nationally standardized tests after Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were fully implemented in the state. Funding was delayed until late 2013.

“Common Core is as big a change in education as Obamacare is in health care, but unlike Obamacare it needed no votes in Congress to become national policy,” Joy Pullman, executive editor of The Federalist, wrote in her 2017 book, The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids.

These controversial K-12 public education standards “garnered practically no notice from the media before the Obama administration, in concert with largely unelected state bureaucrats and a shadow bureaucracy of private organizations, locked it in nationwide. That meant no public debate before the scheme was imposed upon a country supposedly run with the consent of the governed,” Pullman observed.

Common Core State Standards were adopted in full or in part by the governments of 46 states beginning in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration. Michigan’s State Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010, but the Legislature did not fund them until the end of 2013 – the beginning of President Obama’s second term in office.

Despite the hype from the public education establishment the results of these new standards upon student performance, both in Michigan and around the country, have not been good. Common Core, Pullman wrote, “falls short in building a solid foundation of cultural knowledge and in teaching practical skills.”

In Michigan, according to the most recent data from the “Nation’s Report Card” using the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 4th grade results in reading and math have failed to reach even the national average. Scores for 8th grade math have failed as well. Only 8th grade reading assessments managed to keep pace with average students nationwide.

There has been some strong pushback against Common Core in Michigan. Former State Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester), now a member of the State Board of Education, succeeded at blocking funding for the program in the 2013 budget, only to have CCSS brought back up and subsequently funded four months later. Repeal bills were introduced in 2016 and 2017, but thus far have not passed.

Residents have organized in opposition to Common Core as well. Melanie Kurdys of the 7,000-plus member “Stop Common Core in Michigansaid, “Politicians, like parents all across Michigan, know that Common Core is alive and well in our schools … and a ‘disaster.'” Other local groups with hundreds of supporters each have popped up around the state.

National Results

Blue: States that have adopted the Standards
Teal: States that have partially adopted the Standards
Yellow: States that adopted but later repealed the Standards
Brown: States that never adopted the Standards.
Image by Media Kill. CC BY-SA 4.0.[/caption]


Research investigating whether CCSS has had a positive or negative impact has been ongoing. A 2015 report by Tom Loveless for the Brookings Institute of results around the country found the early impact to be “…quite small, amounting to (at most) 0.04 standard deviations (SD) on the NAEP scale.”

A “standard deviation” is a measure that is used to quantify the amount of variation or dispersion of a set of data values. According to Loveless, “A threshold of 0.20 SD—five times larger—is often invoked as the minimum size for a test score change to be regarded as noticeable.”

More recently, the 2018 Brown Center Report shows both math and reading scores have dropped in 4th and 8th grades. By 2017, all states had implemented CCSS, although at least 11 states, including Tennessee, have repealed or renamed them while four never adopted them. Of those who still have CCSS, Montana adopted only the English Language Arts standards.

Another significant change following the wide acceptance of CCSS is the drop in the number of states using the tests designed specifically to align with the standards.

Initially, 45 states agreed to use either Smarter Balanced or PARCC as their statewide assessment tool for the Common Core State Standards. That number has dropped to just 16, including the District of Columbia, as shown on the map provided by Education Week. Michigan is still using Smarter Balanced, but mixed in questions of their own.

Many teachers are unenthusiastic about CCSS, while others consider it to be just another requirement of the job.

At TeachHub, Jacqui Murray said that “the biggest pedagogic change to American education since the arrival of John Dewey is happening right now. It’s called the Common Core State Standards. Its goal: to prepare the nation’s tens of thousands of students for college and/or career.”

“If you are involved in any part of teaching, administrating, or planning, you are holding your breath, downing an aspirin, and crossing your fingers, knowing a storm is about to hit. You’ve prepared, but is it enough?” she added.

“Concern has grown even more intense in Michigan as the Common Core (CC) aligned science standards, and now social studies standards, have been approved, despite the failure of CC,” Tami Carlone, a 2018 State of Michigan Board of Education Republican nominee, said.

“President Trump and Secretary DeVos need to do more to give states freedom from Common Core and everything related to it, and do it faster,” proclaimed Carlone. “Kids are getting dumbed down every day.  This is a national security issue!”

Even Bill Gates, a long-time supporter and major funder behind CCSS, realizes Common Core State Standards are not doing well.

“Bill Gates tacitly admits his common core experiment was a failure,” author Joy Pullman notes.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].







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One Thought to “Michigan Students Fail to Improve Under Common Core”

  1. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    Or under NCLB. Or before that. It’s fine to hate Common Core. But attributing the fluctuations of tests scores down or up on “Common Core” is shortsighted and naive. It misses so many reasons that scores tend to be stagnant, most importantly that normalized standardized test scores are designed to be stable. And shifts up or down in raw scores will be made to vanish when they are scaled. Nothing will make ACT or SAT scores (reported scores, that is) move up or down significantly for large populations over say a five or ten year period. If you don’t understand why, you need to learn basic statistics and psychometrics. Just the bare minimum.