Sent to the Monterey Herald (CA), June 14
We are told we need new standards and tests because American students do poorly compared to other countries. But the major reason for our unspectacular school achievement is our level of child poverty, now 23%, the second highest level among 35 “economically advanced” countries (23.5% in California). Poverty has a devastating impact on school performance. When we control for poverty, American students' test scores are near the top of the world.
We are told more rigorous standards and tests will improve school performance. Research does not support this assertion.
There is, however, strong evidence that protecting children from the effects of poverty will increase school performance: Strengthening food and health care programs, and providing more support for libraries and librarians is a much better investment than the common core. (California ranks near the bottom of the country in school library quality and availability of credientialed librarians; both are related to reading achievement.)
Instead of dealing with the real problem, the common core offers us, as Susan Ohanian puts it, “a radical untried curriculum overhaul and … nonstop national testing," something we don't need at a price we can't afford.
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Child Poverty rate: UNICEF, 2007. An Overview of Child-Well Being in Rich Countries. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Report Card 7. The United Nations Childrens Fund).
California child poverty:
Control for poverty: Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
"There is no evidence standards and tests have improved student learning: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. OECD. Tienken, C., 2011. Common core standards: An example of data-less decision-making. Journal of Scholarship and Practice. American Association of School Administrators [AASA], 7(4): 3-18. http://www.aasa.org/jsp.aspx.
"Strengthening food programs, increading health care, providing more access to books": Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential; Krashen, S., Lee, SY, and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is The Library Important? Multivariate Studies at the National and International Level Journal of Language and Literacy Education: 8(1). http://jolle.coe.uga.edu/
“... a radical untried curriculum overhaul and … nonstop national testing" Susan Ohanian, Woo-Hoo! Occupy the Schools. http://www.dailycensored.com/woo-hoo/