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At the Chalk Face: State Impact: Core Questions: How Does Common Core Address Poverty?

Speaking for the Education Trust, Sonja Brookins Santelises makes the following argument in support of Common Core:

And before Baltimore, she worked in Massachusetts – the state whose standards are a model for Common Core. The Bay State is now one of the top-ranked education systems in the country.

Common standards will allow districts across the U.S. to share tips, techniques and lessons that work best for low-income or minority students.

In Twenty Years After Education Reform: Choosing a Path Forward to Equity and Excellence for All, Dan French, Ed.D., Lisa Guisbond and Alain Jehlen, Ph.D., with Norma Shapiro, conclude, among other things, about the impact of Massachusetts’ standards:

Large gaps in educational equity, opportunity and outcomes persist:

  • On the MCAS, significant gaps remain among student groups based on race, poverty, ethnicity, language and special needs, with some gaps stagnant and some increasing. The school districts with the highest scores on the 2012 10th grade MCAS English test  had low-income student populations ranging from two to nine percent, while the ten lowest scoring districts had percentages ranging from 50 to 87 percent.
  • On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, though our average results place us at the top of all states, Massachusetts ranks in the bottom tier of states in progress toward closing the achievement gap for Black, Hispanic, and low-income students. Massachusetts has some of the widest gaps in the nation between White and Hispanic students, a sign that the English immersion policy created by the Unz initiative has failed.
  • Massachusetts ranks 31st of 49 states for the gap between Black and White student graduation rates (with 1st meaning that the gap is the smallest) and 39th of 47 states for the size of the gap between Hispanic and White student graduation rates. For students with disabilities, Massachusetts’ four-year graduation rate is only 64.9 percent, which ranks the state at 28th out of the 45 states with available data in 2009. A significant reason for this low figure is the impact of the MCAS graduation requirement on this subgroup.

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P.L. Thomas

Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. Recent books include Parental Choice?:...