As an early adopter of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Kentucky is in a unique position to try and answer the question: do the CCSS make a difference? While there are additional factors to consider, like curriculum and assessment reforms, a new report from the American Institutes for Research says that the CCSS students are “showing signs of faster progression and heightened college and career readiness levels than students in older curriculum models.”
The study, Getting College and Career Ready During State Transition Toward the Common Core State Standards, which was supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, looks at the ACT results of three cohorts of Kentucky students.
- Cohort one: took the ACT in 2010–11, so it was not affected by the CCSS implementation.
- Cohorts two and three: took the ACT in 2011–12 and 2012– 13—1 and 2 years after the initial implementation of the CCSS, respectively.
Students in the two CCSS cohorts outperformed students in the first cohort in terms of ACT composite score and in subjects directly tied to the common core standard reform, like math and science. More important, students in the latter cohorts outperformed other students by up to .25 points on the ACT composite score. According to the report’s authors, that difference is equivalent to about 3 months of additional learning. In addition, the researchers noted that the progress was consistent for students in both high and low poverty environments.
Since many classroom changes coincided with implementation of the CCSS, Zeyu Xu, principal researcher on the study, suggests further research, including examining social development and behavior outcomes. In order to determine the true impact of the CCSS, Xu said“we would have to nail the question of what would have happened without the common core.”
For more on the Common Core, check out the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group CIC session, Common Core Conundrum.