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The rise and fall of the Common Core

The introduction of the Every Child Succeeds Act (ECSA) on December 10, 2015 effectively signified the end of the Common Core standards in the United States.

Introduced as a common academic benchmark for English and mathematics in K-12 education, the Common Core standards garnered bipartisan political support and were adopted by 45 states. This initial approval may be attributed in part to the federal Department of Education offering incentives for each state to adopt the Common Core policy changes, including grants and waivers to avoid penalties for missing achievement targets of the No Child Left Behind policy.

Support for the Common Core began to decrease in 2013 after passing rates for the newly aligned standardized tests plummeted. In New York State, only 31% of students through grades 3-8 met or exceeded the proficiency standards; a decrease from 55% in 2012.

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, incensed the backlash against the Common Core standards when he dismissed criticism against the new standardized tests as being from “white suburban moms” who were upset their children were not as “brilliant” as they thought.

In 2014, opposition to the Common Core standards grew with 17 states preparing bills to back out of the program. A number of politicians and teachers unions pushed rhetoric claiming the federal Department of Education was overstepping its boundaries by trying to establish a “national school board”. This raised the public profile of the debate reflected by a 2014 Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa poll which reported 60% of respondents opposed the Common Core standards.

Even Arne Duncan eventually began to distance himself from the Common Core standards his department introduced. In a 2014 hearing, Duncan denied particular favour towards the Common Core, instead claiming a proponent of high academic standards—whether they are common or not.

The introduction of the ECSA signals the likely end of the Common Core standards; however, the federal Department of Education had begun backing out of several proposed changes beforehand. Most recently, in October 2015 the Obama administration and Duncan called for a cap on standardized testing so that students will spend no more than two percent of class time taking tests.

While the Common Core standards have been steadily losing ground since 2013, the signing of the ECSA may signify the proverbial final nail in the program’s coffin.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and marketing strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also a part-time faculty member at Centennial College and serves on the board of the Canadian Public Relations Society.

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