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William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

New Brief Explores the Likely Results of Common Core State Standards

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 11, 2012)— According to a recent PDK/Gallup Poll, seventy-five percent of Americans believe that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states, and fifty percent believe the CCSS will improve the quality of education in their community. But a new brief out today, summarizing the current research findings on the likely effect of the widespread adoption of the CCSS, suggests a different outcome may emerge.

This two-page brief is part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, wrote the brief.

Development of the CCSS was led by the National Governors' Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)—with financial support from the Gates Foundation. Through conditions placed on federal grants and on NCLB waivers, the U.S. Department of Education has pushed states to adopt these "college and career ready standards," with 46 of the states having adopted the CCSS in whole or in part.

Mathis notes that there is no research directly on the CCSS program since it has yet to be implemented. Based on past experience with state standards and the experience of other nations, however, we know that the effects of the CCSS will depend much less on the standards themselves than on how they are used.

He identifies two factors that are particularly crucial, "the first is whether states invest in the necessary curricular and instructional resources and supports, and the second concerns the nature and use of CCSS assessments developed by the two national testing consortia."

Mathis warns that standards themselves don't teach. Nor does the international benchmarking of these standards have any effect. Alone, they do not create strong incentives to change what happens in the classroom. In his advice to policymakers he states, "For the CCSS to be meaningful depends directly on whether it is adequately supported."

Regarding the two national assessment consortia, Mathis questions whether the testing consortia have the financial resources to implement high-quality and higher-order assessments on time.

He concludes that the adoption of standards and assessments alone "is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores or close the achievement gap." Keep an eye instead on the support and the assessments, he says.

This two-page brief is part of the multipart brief Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking.

Find the brief on the GLC website at:

This report is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

This brief is also found on the NEPC website at:

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