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Research Aims to Study Common Core to Determine Effectiveness Once and For All

Research Aims to Study Common Core to Determine Effectiveness Once and For All

The University of Michigan, Brown University and Stanford University have received $5 million in funding to begin a five-year study on the effectiveness of Common Core on learning.

The analysis has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation and will, according to a release from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, "look at how governmental and non-governmental stakeholders are responding to the Common Core and how this is affecting classroom instruction and social disparities in academic achievement in school systems across the country.”

The analysis will focus on getting to the bottom of whether or not national standards do, in fact, improve student achievement as intended.

Specifically, the study will focus on "a collection of video records of classroom teaching, available at U-M, from roughly 240 teachers in six urban school districts that participated in the Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study also will draw on a database archived at Stanford University that allows researchers to track student achievement trends in all 50 states longitudinally.”

Despite having the best intentions of increasing student achievement by simultaneously reducing educational inequality with the creation of one set of academic standards, the Common Core has been one of the most polarizing educational endeavors to date.

Even initial supporters of the highly controversial standards are hard-pressed to totally support them, with many agreeing that a shoddy roll-out and implementation have contributed to the standards getting a bad name.

One of the most famous supporters to admit problems with implementation is a group who had a significant influence on the standards’ creation—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Though the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent billions of dollars designing and implementing the standards, earlier this year the foundation’s CEO admitted to unforeseen setbacks in an open letter.

"Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann.

"We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators—particularly teachers—but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.”

Other big-time Common Core supporters have addressed these same concerns, like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In April, Clinton said to Long Island’s Newsday that while she supported the Common Core, she believes its roll-out was “disastrous” due to the fact that it expected teachers and school leaders to adhere to new standards and “turn on a dime.”

"Remember a lot of states had developed their own standards and they'd been teaching to those standards. And they had a full industry that was training teachers to understand what was going to be tested. And then along comes Common Core and you're expected to turn on a dime. It was very upsetting to everybody,” Clinton said.

As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, Clinton argued that better parental and educator engagement was needed for future success.

Opponents of Common Core are not so understanding or hopeful that changes and tweaks can make the standards worth keeping.

Republican candidate Donald Trump, for instance, has called Common Core a “total disaster” and has said he will repeal it once in office. He has not elaborated on how he would do so, since the new education legislation prevents federal government from influencing both for or against academic standards, but his intention has seemingly not changed regardless.

This study aims to determine what went right and what went wrong—and how the country can continue to work on promoting equality in education moving forward.

"This study will help us understand how trends in achievement levels and achievement gaps may be related to patterns of adoption and implementation of Common Core. In doing so it will also help us to understand the limits and possibilities of large-scale standards-based reform to achieve greater equity in educational outcomes,” said Adam Gamoran, president of the William T. Grant Foundation.

Read more here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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