Getting College and Career Ready During State Transition Toward the Common Core State Standards
As of October 2014, 43 states have adopted the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS or “Common Core”). The Common Core standards were developed in 2009, released by mid-2010, and represent a cross-state effort to adopt a set of “college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.”
The CCSS initiative grew out of concerns that existing state standards are not adequately preparing students with the knowledge and skills needed to compete globally, necessitating a clearer set of learning expectations that are consistent from state to state. But the CCSS initiative is not without controversy, and it has become increasingly polarizing.
This study provides a first look at how student college- and career-readiness have progressed in the early years of Common Core implementation. It is motivated by concern that changes triggered by the standards transition might be disruptive to student learning in the short run, even when those changes may become beneficial once fully implemented.
Using longitudinal administrative data from Kentucky, an early adopter of the CCSS, we followed three cohorts of students from the end of the 8th grade to the end of the 11th grade and found that students exposed to the CCSS—including students in both high- and low-poverty schools—made faster progress in learning than similar students who were not exposed to the standards. Although it is not conclusive whether cross-cohort improvement was entirely attributable to the standards reform, we found that students made large gains in proficiency in the years immediately before and after the transition. Additionally, we found student performance in subjects that adopted CCSS-aligned curriculum framework experienced larger, more immediate improvement than student performance in subjects that carried over last-generation curriculum framework.