September 2013

Cheryl Oldham is the Vice President for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

ODYSSEY_170Should states only set educational standards that are easily attainable? Apparently, that’s what many critics of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) believe. This notion should drive every parent insane. Personally, as a mother of two young boys–one in preschool, the other about to begin 5th grade in public school–I shudder to think that the expectations placed on my kids are only just enough to be attainable. Because, goodness, (begin sarcasm font) we wouldn’t want them to be challenged to achieve great things!

For decades, we have been dishonest with parents and students, and told them they were on track even though the data tells a different story. Fifty percent of undergraduates and 70% of community college students must take at least one remedial course because they are underprepared. Proficiency rates on state assessments look great, but when compared to the Nation’s Report Card, the numbers drop dramatically, particularly for low-income and minority students. States have set mediocre, dare I say “attainable,” standards so that passage rates on assessments are acceptable to adults, and so states/districts/schools can escape accountability. (more…)