Students working on computers Photo courtesy of US Department of Education

The Common Core Standards were introduced in 2010 in an effort to ensure K-12 students across each of the 50 states are being taught and evaluated using a common standard. Preliminary results from the first administrations of Common Core-aligned testing are showing that overall student scores have improved. Unfortunately, due to a number of states dropping out of the two national Common Core-aligned tests in favour of developing their own, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a number of states.

The U.S. Department of Education provided two groups of states with funding to create the following Common Core-aligned tests: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The two Common Core-aligned tests were designed to create a national benchmark for U.S. student success and achievement.

Common Core-aligned tests are computer-based and adaptive in nature, designed to have students show how they reached the right answer instead of having them bubble in a multiple-choice test. The results will yield much more data for greater insight into student knowledge and proficiency.

Unfortunately, the Common Core’s goal of bringing students and schools across the nation under a common definition of success will be unfulfilled. A number of states have opted out of the SBAC and PARCC evaluations in favour of developing their own Common Core-aligned tests. While these individual state tests will have to meet the Common Core requirements, it will not be possible to compare them to the SBAC and PARCC tests.

The Common Core Standards will benefit students and schools across the United States; the preliminary results have already shown that there is improvement. Unfortunately, the goal of establishing a national benchmark of success will never be realized.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also board member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and contributes as a communications researcher with McMaster University.