New Study: Common Core Does Not Prepare Students Well for College

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has consistently voiced his opposition to the Common Core, calling it a disaster from the very first speech of his candidacy. In an interview earlier this week, his message was the same: “I like the concept of local education. I want to get rid of Common Core. I think Common Core is a disaster.” Trump has been widely maligned by the press for his observation that the standards are “obviously not working,” but a recent study from the ACT confirms that Common Core standards simply don’t prepare students for higher education.

According to the National Curriculum Survey, released yesterday morning, the writing skills taught in high school don’t match the skills expected by college professors. While high school teachers, following the requirements of Common Core, prioritize critical analysis of source texts, professors care far more about students’ ability to generate sound ideas. And while instructors agreed on the most important reading skills for college-level study, professors rated incoming students as under-prepared for almost all of them. Only about half of professors found incoming students mostly prepared to identify central themes and important details, and only a quarter or so found them well-prepared to draw conclusions or evaluate evidence. Less than 20 percent of instructors said that students entering their class were prepared to distinguish between fact, opinion, and argument.

Even the math standards, supposedly a strength of Common Core, were found lacking. One third of math teachers reported that most of their class lacked appropriate mathematical knowledge and skill at the beginning of the year. And less than half of middle and high school teachers said they thought the Common Core was a good reflection of college math expectations.

The ACT, which has long been a proponent of the Common Core, said that the findings “should not be interpreted as a rebuke” of the standards. But the evidence is clear: Trump is right. Common Core is a disaster.

Danny Cannon works for the American Principles Project.