In the midst of the contentious debate over the Common Core State Standards, many critics have lost perspective on its purpose.
Why did so many governors, educators and policymakers across both parties join together to create the standards in the first place? A brief look at Common Core’s history would help explain its significance and counter some of the criticisms.
In 1983, then Secretary of Education Terrel Bell commissioned the seminal report, “A Nation at Risk,” which highlighted American students’ falling SAT scores and awakened the nation to its educational malaise. Among many of the report’s recommendations, which eventually became a platform for modern education reforms, were calls for “more rigorous and measurable standards.” American students were victims of low expectations and inconsistent learning goals.
William Bennett explains Common Core in an op-ed that lays out the what and why of this misunderstood educational tool (see Common Core has no better alternative). He further explains that not much has changed since 1983 despite billions of dollars spent on education and adds, “Thanks to benchmarked national and international exams, like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), we know that American students continue to fall short.”