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June 17, 2016

Failing Another Common Core Test

Federal standards don’t prepare kids for college or life.

In a shocking and utterly unanticipated turn of events, a new report suggests that pedagogy which teaches 2+2 is 4 only by way of 17 does not adequately prepare students for college or life thereafter.

Okay, we’re completely kidding. Because the latest report is that Common Core has failed the test, and that’s not shocking at all.

ACT, the organization best known for its college admissions testing, recently released its National Curriculum Survey, a survey conducted every few years that asks educators what they do — or don’t — teach and solicits input on what prepares students for academic success. While ACT typically questions educators from elementary to postsecondary levels, this year, for the first time, the survey also included “workforce supervisors and employees” to identify what they see as essential for career readiness.

You’ll recall, of course, that Common Core proponents touted its ability “to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life,” and assured that the standards are “[a]ligned with college and career expectations.”

Who knew such promises were only an exercise in creative writing? In truth, the standards are disconnected from the reality of college and career expectations and instead are simply aligned with Washington bureaucrats’ expectations.

The ACT report found, for example, that just 16% of college instructors believed students entered their classes prepared for college-level work — a drop from 26% in 2009 and 2012.

What’s more, ACT notes that while secondary teachers may adhere to Common Core standards in teaching “source-based writing,” college teachers “appear to value the ability to generate sound ideas more than some key features of source-based writing.”

Relatedly, just 18% of college professors said their students were prepared to distinguish among fact, opinion and reasoned judgment. Naturally, colleges will now need to develop “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” for those who haven’t developed these fundamental abilities. Newsflash: These skills are also critical for pursuing a successful career outside of government.

Other notable findings pointing to Common Core’s deficiencies include the fact that some teachers are teaching math topics not included in Common Core — indicative of the standards’ deficiencies. And many fourth- to seventh-grade math teachers begin teaching STEM-related topics sooner than Common Core dictates.

Meanwhile, as Reason notes, “The survey also showed critical gaps between what is considered in the workforce as necessary for success and what is actually included as part of the standards.” What matters to employers? Things like problem solving, technology and the ability to work with others face-to-face.

The ACT survey is simply the latest “F” in a string of failing report cards for Common Core. It’s little wonder states are rejecting the standards faster than you can solve a Common Core math problem.

The real takeaway here is that the federal government makes an abysmal schoolteacher and is no better at being principal or superintendent. Perhaps that’s one of many reasons our Constitution does not include education among Congress’ enumerated powers. Instead, education is rightly a state, local and primarily parental responsibility.

Let’s face it. The federal government doesn’t know what’s best for your child and clearly doesn’t understand what private employers value. And in superimposing one-size-fits-all mandates on classrooms across America, Washington is harming — not helping — kids’ chance at succeeding in life, regardless of whether or not they attend college.

Beltway bureaucrats simply have no business in Johnny’s fifth-grade science — or math, English, history, or P.E. — class. But like a classroom bully, the federal government won’t back down on its own. It’s up to states — and we the people — to stand up to the bully and not relent until he leaves school grounds once and for all.

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