By JENNI WHITE July 6, 2016
According to findings published by the American College Testing Inc.’s (ACT) National Curriculum Survey, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) fail to prepare students for college.
ACT conducts its survey every three to five years, during which it collects “data about what entering college students should know and be able to do to be ready for college-level coursework in English, math, reading, and science.” ACT surveys thousands of K–12 teachers, college professors, and workforce supervisors and employees.
ACT’s survey, released in June, concluded, “There are discrepancies between some state standards and what some educators believe is important for college readiness.”
According to the survey, only 16 percent of college educators said incoming students were prepared for post-secondary coursework.
Regarding mathematics, the report found, “Although implementation of the Common Core State Standards has led to changes in mathematics curricula, significant discrepancies remain between the standards and teachers’ instructional practices.”
Elementary school teachers reported they continue teaching some of the topics omitted from Common Core in later grades because they “perceive that students are entering their classrooms unprepared for the demands that later mathematics courses will make of them.”
Regarding reading and writing, the survey reported college instructors “find their entering students’ preparation in many of these skills to be lacking.”
Ze’ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education official under President George W. Bush, says there’s a disconnect between what K–12 teachers think students should know and what college professors expect.
“Many K–12 teachers are unaware of, or misunderstand, which skills are actually needed to succeed in college,” Wurman said. “Most are aware of what SAT/ACT tests expect, yet those are not necessarily the skills needed to succeed in college but [are] rather, at best, skills necessary to be accepted into college.”
Mary Byrne, a former college professor and a member of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, says current curricula does not prepare students for college-level courses.
“It’s not that college instructors aren’t valuing what is being taught, it’s that what is being taught does not address all of the types of knowledge-based competencies for post-secondary writing assignments,” Byrne said. “The college instructors are having to grapple with students who are not fully prepared for college writing, because there are more advanced levels of reflection and thinking than simply summarizing existing ideas as required by source-based writing.”
Source-based writing asks students to write about information they are supplied with from other sources.
Validation Process Was ‘a Sham’
Wurman says students’ lack of career and college readiness is a result of the process by which CCSS was validated.
“The people most responsible for validating this set of skills for Common Core, David Conley of University of Oregon and William Schmidt of Michigan State University, launched their own ‘validation studies’ of Common Core long after they had already certified that Common Core is ‘aligned’ with college expectations,” Wurman said. “Unsurprisingly, they found what they had already previously certified is, indeed, aligned. Unsurprisingly, … those studies, and the whole certification process of Common Core, were a sham.”
Careers Over College
Byrne says K–12 teachers are preparing kids for jobs, not college.
“The expectations of the college instructors are for students to demonstrate the college readiness of professional preparation that is not being taught by middle school and high school teachers, who are preparing students for knowledge and skills generally expected of students entering lifelong careers,” Byrne said.
Wurman says the developers of CCSS made vast, unjustified changes to K–12 curricula “overnight.”
“Common Core came along and pretended it could change and discard large chunks of curriculum overnight,” Wurman said. “Having been written by unqualified people with barely any record or experience with K–12 education, it is unsurprising they have failed. This failure is only now coming to light. How unsurprising. How shameful.”
Jenni White is cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education and a former public school science teacher.