Common Core

Common Core Fails to Prepare Students for College and Workforce, Says New Study

Rather than moving students forward, it leaves them unprepared

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CollegeDegrees360 / Flickr

A new report by ACT—the organization the oversees university admissions tests—found that college instructors and employers are not satisfied with the Common Core Standards. Both groups feel the standards fail to prepare students for both college and the workplace.

The research is based on the ACT National Curriculum Survey, which asks educators at numerous levels which skills are valued in the classroom to promote success. This year was the first time the group collected a sample from the workforce.

In the study, 16 percent of college instructors said their incoming students were well prepared overall for college-level work, a decline from 26 percent from the 2009 and 2012 surveys.

In regards to writing skills, 47 percent of college instructors said students should be most proficient at generating sound ideas for writing prior to entering the classroom. This was not the case with middle and high school teachers, who polled 29 and 35 percent respectively in this category. 

Another difference exists in regards to how to prepare students for STEM courses and careers. Middle and high school teachers ascribed high importance to mathematical skills. However, both college instructors and workforce respondents felt these skills were much less important.

The survey also showed critical gaps between what is considered in the workforce as necessary for success and what is actually included as part of the standards. For instance, employers ranked nonacademic skills like conscientiousness, problem solving, and technology higher than educators.

These individuals also reported valuing employees who have a unique skill set and interact with others face-to-face over written communication.

This is not the first time the effectiveness of Common Core has been questioned. In March, education researchers in California called for an end to high-stakes testing linked to the standards, adding there was no compelling evidence the initiative improves the quality of education or closes the achievement gap.

In a statement, ACT CEO Marten Roorda said these findings were not a condemnation of standards, but rather a showcase of data highlighting "the disconnect between what is emphasized in the Common Core and what some college instructors perceive as important to college readiness."

Yet considering Common Core was specifically designed to prepare students for college and the workforce, the standards themselves would appear to deserve some blame. Think of all the time and effort teachers spend trying to make students better prepared for the future—the future according to Common Core—just for it to be a complete waste.

Given that ACT voiced support for Common Core in 2009, one can guess why the organization pulled its punches.

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35 responses to “Common Core Fails to Prepare Students for College and Workforce, Says New Study

  1. A while back, I was in a barber’s waiting area and I looked at a Time magazine. It had a highly-condescending pitch for Common Core, like a mother trying to feed spinach to a baby – “mmm, you’re going to love Common Core. You like education, don’t you? Well, Common Core is about education! Look, even the conservatives over in Kentucky are eating it! Num, num, num, Common Core is delicious!”

    (rough paraphrase)

    1. You should have been posting to H&R from your smartphone.

  2. Gee, nobody saw that coming…

    1. They must not have had a Common Core education.

  3. More like common bore, am I right?

  4. From a study earlier this year:

    “Half a million college students enroll in some type of remedial course after graduating high school.
    And that remediation can be costly, not only to colleges, but to students and their families. Those costs can raise the overall price of attending college.
    A new report from researchers at Education Reform Now, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, found that enrolling in remedial course work during the first year of college costs students and their families nearly $1.5 billion a year in out-of-pocket expenses.”

    1. Why do colleges accept students who need remedial course work? It would seem easier to say oops, turns out your not college material. Please apply once your ready.

      1. Because they want those student tuition fees, and there will always be lots of colleges happy to suck up tuition fees for piss poor students who drop out after a semester or year, and banks happy to push student loans.

        Any college which stood on its principles would just lose market share.

      2. I knew a guy in school that just couldn’t pass college math classes. His grades in English and social sciences were good, he was a hard worker, but math was totally alien to his brain. Was he “college material”?

        I suspect another reason is that if only middle class and rich kids from the suburbs can pass the entrance exams, it may be hard for reasonably sharp and motivated kids that went to shitty urban schools would get screwed.

  5. We had to pass it to see what’s in it!

  6. “Common Core was specifically designed to prepare students for college and the workforce”

    That’s what was promised and that’s what was used to beat back the hullabaloo the Tea Parties raised against it in 2009 and later. I wonder if the design was flawed or the implementation? Probably both.

    1. Well, I’ve read the Standards (they’re online and they’re super-easy to read; they’re made for teachers to try and understand, after all).

      There’s nothing obviously wrong with them.

      The curricula that (claim to) implement them are doubtless just as flawed as the pre-Core ones that also didn’t prepare anyone for higher education.

      All I can see here, really, is that Common Core didn’t magically fix a completely broken system, especially since as far as I know schools still get to just pass and graduate people no matter what.

      It’s not like “public education” actually attempts to educate much, honestly.

  7. My little cousin is in 7th grade — common core isn’t perfect, but it’s blamed for everything under the sun.

    How about we teach less art history and useless classes like that, and require high school/college students take a programming class and a personal finance class. Way more valuable that half your general ed nonsense.

    1. MOAR PHILISTINISM

      1. Western culture? Pssshhh….ain’t nobody got time for that!

      2. See, I’m a philosophy major and I took a pile of art history and fine art classes, too.

        But – not quite what esteve said – if a school can’t even manage reading and math it has no business wasting resources on anything less vital.

        (Hell, honestly, personal finance probably is of more use than any K-12 “art history” class. To get serious benefit you really want a series of them at the college level, not a one-term summary from a general-ed teacher who’s just punching a clock.)

      3. I would be happy if high school graduates were consistently capable of composing simple paragraphs.

  8. Given that the Common Core standards were only released summer 2010 and thus have been in place less than five years at any school, how exactly are they responsible for the academic state of students currently entering college?

    1. Re-read the article. The criticism isn’t based on student performance.

      1. In the study, 16 percent of college instructors said their incoming students were well prepared overall for college-level work, a decline from 26 percent from the 2009 and 2012 surveys

        Part of it sure seems to be…

        1. Yes. but that’s not the source of the criticism towards Common Core, which is “the disconnect between what is emphasized in the Common Core and what some college instructors perceive as important to college readiness”.

    2. Thus far, common core for me has meant that I get to give money to Singapore Math and spend my time teaching my kids things my tax dollar supported teachers (who allegedly studied the art of knowledge transfer in college) were supposed to be teaching them.

      My main complaint is that they don’t do enough to ensure concepts are solidly learned before they move on. They also teach the topics out of order. Math is built on a logical order. Moving on to the next concept before achieving a degree of mastery over the previous one is how to not learn math.

  9. These individuals also reported valuing employees who have a unique skill set and interact with others face-to-face over written communication.

    So the ideal employee is Bryan Mills?

  10. Another difference exists in regards to how to prepare students for STEM courses and careers. Middle and high school teachers ascribed high importance to mathematical skills. However, both college instructors and workforce respondents felt these skills were much less important.

    Um, what?

    1. I’m a computer programmer, and frankly “mathematical skills” aren’t that much use in my job per se.

      (Now, if the software itself is doing math, such as accounting or scientific computing, obviously you need to know the math to write the software [and to know if it’s even working].

      But a whole lot of “STEM” has very little M, indeed, especially since so much of the STE stuff is technician jobs, not prime mover jobs.

      Not a damned thing wrong with those careers – they’re just not mathematicians, nor will MOAR MATH always be better.)

  11. Middle and high school teachers ascribed high importance to mathematical skills. However, both college instructors and workforce respondents felt these skills were much less important.

    The survey also showed critical gaps between what is considered in the workforce as necessary for success and what is actually included as part of the standards. For instance, employers ranked nonacademic skills like conscientiousness, problem solving, and technology higher than educators.

    These individuals also reported valuing employees who have a unique skill set and interact with others face-to-face over written communication.

    So, is this an article decrying the terrible results of common core, or a trojan horse attempting to plant the seed that reading, riting, and rithmetic aren’t as important as we claim they are.

  12. employers ranked nonacademic skills like conscientiousness, problem solving, and technology higher than educators.

    How do you teach conscientiousness? Lower a student’s grade for not getting the work done, showing up late, to class, etc. NAH – can’t hurt the precious snowflake’s self-esteem.

    How do you teach problem solving? The first, and easiest, way, is with mathematics. Problem solving generally revolves around applying learned skills repeatedly, then building new skills on top of those previous skills, and finally allowing all those skills to be applied in different combinations. NAH – that stifles the precious snowflake’s creativity; better to tell them that smearing feces on walls is creative and keep their self-esteem high.

    How the fuck is “technology” a skill?? Technology is a RESULT, not a skill. Basically, the employers listing this are the dumb fucks in HR departments that want someone with 25 years of Twitter experience because the CEO heard Twitter is important and they need to be on teh Twitter next week big time. What, you don’t have a Master’s Degree in Social Media?

    Poll retarded educators and employers who would likely be bankrupt if it weren’t for Congress passing laws preventing start-up companies from competing, and you have these idiotic results. I have no confidence that Common Core will produce anything because it is born from the results of idiot employers asking bureaucrats to fix problems so they don’t have to spend their own money.

  13. Common Core prepares you to be an ignorant recipient of government services. It actually works quite well.

  14. The big problem is the government-sector monopoly on education.

    1. No, the core oroblem (pun intended) is the proliferation of progressives. It’s simple math. Reduce the number of progressive’s, and the problem goes away.

  15. Well, the problem is – despite how cool college is and how many interesting classes there are, the bitter truth is when you start working you are going to find yourself not knowing lots things you were supposed to know. Usually, one in four graduates work in the field related to their major and those three are just going to say college failed them which probably it did but still those students are also to blame. You shouldn’t go to college because you parents say so. You should choose not just a major but THE major. You shouldn’t study something you don’t like or just for the sake of having a good paycheck later. If you do, you are going to lose interesting in studying and to start googling ‘who can write my papers.’ But if you want to become those 14% college graduates who have their jobs waiting for them you should study hard and study what you love. And I doubt Common Core Standards have something to do with that. Years ago everything was good. Even the percentage of graduates with waiting jobs was higher. I don’t know but probably we are getting dumber the more technologies we are using.

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  17. No surprise at all! Schools are teaching the same way for decades while the world dynamics have changed a lot. We are living in a totally different reality, but the educators insist in the applying the same old teaching system.

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