Study Finds Common Core English and Math Standards Not Properly Validated

Some Validation Committee members refused to attest the standards are comparable to those who work in the world's highest-performing countries

BOSTON – Five of the 29 people in the Common Core Validation Committee refused to sign a report attesting the standards are research-based, rigorous and internationally benchmarked. The report was launched with 24 signatures and included no mention that five committee members refused to sign it, based on a new study authored by Pioneer Institute.

Common Core's Validation: A Weak Foundation for any Crooked House

No person in the Validation Committee were built with a doctorate in English literature or language and only one held a doctorate in math. He was one of only three members with extensive experience writing standards. Two of the three refused to sign off on the standards.

“Since all 50 states have had standards for a decade or even more, there is a pool of individuals out there experienced in writing English and math standards,” said Ze'ev Wurman, author of “Common Core's Validation: An inadequate Foundation for a Crooked House.” “It's unclear why very few of them were tapped for that Common Core Validation Committee.”

Wurman describes two studies conducted by members who signed the Validation Committee report so that they can provide post facto evidence that supported their earlier decisions. In both cases, the study was poorly executed and failed to supply evidence that Common Core is internationally competitive and may prepare American high school students for college-level work.

One study, conducted by Validation Committee member and Michigan State University educational statistician William Schmidt and a colleague, explored if the Common Core math standards are similar to those in the highest-performing nations and just what outcomes might reasonably be expected after Common Core is implemented.

Wurman describes how even after Schmidt and his colleague rearranged the logical order in which concepts could be trained to make Common Core look a lot more like the mathematics standards in high-performing countries, there is still just one 60 percent congruence forwards and backwards. Their initial results also found no correlation between student achievement and also the states which have math standards most like Common Core.

After participating in highly unconventional steps to improve both congruence between Common Core and also the international standards and the correlation between Common Core and student achievement (according to states whose standards were most similar to Common Core), Schmidt and his colleague wrote that they estimate congruence “in a singular way- along with several assumptions.” They acknowledge their analyses “should be observed as only exploratory- merely suggesting the possibility of rapport,” yet such caution disappears within their final conclusion.

Wurman's research also uncovered that basic information was coded incorrectly for Schmidt's study and shows types of concepts introduced in high school under Common Core listed to be taught in seventh grade.

Other research has come to completely different conclusions. Stanford University mathematician R. James Milgram, the only real member of the Validation Committee having a doctorate in mathematics, asserted Common Core is 2 years behind the mathematics standards in the highest-performing countries. Milgram also wrote that Common Core fails to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Ze'ev Wurman is a visiting scholar in the Hoover Institution and a former senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Planning, Development, and Policy Development. In 2010, he served as a commissioner around the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated Common Core's suitability for adoption for the reason that state.