If you follow the debate on the common core standards, you often here proponents of the standards claim they are needed to make American students more competitive in the global economy. In fact, it was the main reason for the initiative in the first place. Recent data from the TIMMS, which is an international test taken by 57 countries and education systems, might poke some holes in this theory. The state of Massachusetts has performed quite well which shows it was on the correct path.
If the goal of the common core initiative is to raise student achievement to the level of the highest performing countries, why not adopt a set of proven standards like Massachusetts. The Bay State’s standards are closer to closing the distance between US students and high performing international counterparts than the common core. The common core standards, which have never been field tested in a classroom, are not internationally benchmarked, but only “informed” by the highest standards. Check their website, the language is there.
It would be easier to get blood from a stone than have standards that are not internationally benchmarked improve American students performance on international tests. States need to ask themselves, “Why did we adopt these standards again?”.
See TIMMS results below:
“If we make the right choices, having the best schools in the world is within reach. Lowering the bar by adopting Common Core is no more helpful than it would be for a teacher to tell a student who is performing well and improving fast to join a study group with underachievers. For us that means the rest of the United States, which earns no more than a C- on TIMSS.”
“The question for Massachusetts is why, if it is showing this kind of progress, it would want to tether itself to national and federal efforts like the Common Core standards, tests, and curricular materials. Why the best state in the US would resign itself to being like all the rest of the states is truly a difficult policy decision to explain.”
Average math scores, 8th grade (57 countries and education systems)
Korea, Republic of 613
Chinese Taipei 609
Hong Kong 586
US average 509
TIMSS scale ave. 500
Average science scores, 8th grade (56 countries and education systems)
Chinese Taipei 564
Korea, Republic of 560
US average 525
TIMSS scale ave. 500
More from Sergios: “States lead the way on reform. Arne Duncan noted in his press release associated with TIMSS that states can play a role in improving schools. Well, given what Massachusetts has accomplished these past two decades and the little impact of federal policy, perhaps a better way of putting it is: States and localities are the only entities capable of improving student performance. States and localities bring 90 percent of the revenue pie, and states and localities are flexible and innovative enough to craft policies that matter.”