Welcome to the Common Core Fact Checker

Correcting the record: The Common Core State Standards are one of the most important issues dominating today’s education discussion. This Fact Checker site was created to correct the record on some of the most outrageous myths and ideas about the Standards. Here you will find information about the Standards, our daily update and resources to help you determine what is fact and what is fiction.

These resources will be updated daily and are provided to create a clearer vision of what the standards mean to you, your family, students and your community.

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Washington Post, “A Poster Child for Common Core”: Ahead of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote, “Common Core decriers need a reality check.” Rubin says Oklahoma, which voted last year to repeal the standards, is a “perfect case where the anti-Common Core crowd wreaked havoc.” Oklahoma ranked near the bottom of most states.

What It Means: As Rubin points out, states like Oklahoma and South Carolina that caved to activists and voted to repeal Common Core risk putting their states’ students at a disadvantage and creating “chaos” in classrooms. One reason, as Mike Petrilli wrote last December, is that “it’s impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core.”

New York Times, “The Importance of Play as a Learning Tool”: In response to a recent article by David Kohn, David Liben of Vermont, who provided input to the development of Common Core, says the standards do not reduce children’s playtime. “It is important to understand that the early literacy skills called for by the standards (like knowing the alphabet) can and should be accomplished through joyful, playful rhymes, songs and physical games.

What It Means: The Common Core sets high learning goals and gives educators and local authorities full control about how to meet them. For many teachers, the greater collaboration across subjects has introduced the opportunity to use physical activity to bolster learning. Eric Slifstein and Kim Hardwick, two Long Island teachers, explained that dynamic in action, saying, “By creating better continuity across states, districts and even classrooms, the Common Core is helping educators to share best practices and ideas to unlock students’ full potential. Gone are the days of teaching in silos.”

Eugene Register Guard, “Common Core Standards = Success in Math”: Madeline Ahearn, a K-12 math administrator for the Eugene School District in Oregon, and Dev Sinha, an associate professor at the University of Oregon, write that Common Core State Standards introduce greater focus and progression of learning to help students succeed in math.

What It Means: In addition to traditional learning techniques, the Common Core introduces multiple problem-solving methods to help students develop a strong conceptual understanding of numbers and functions. By cultivating stronger fundamental understanding, the standards set up more students to ultimately graduate high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college or a career.

Education Writers Association, “From the Classroom: Teachers Talk Common Core”: Amid the “political noise” surrounding the Common Core and related assessments, teacher and ground-level voices have largely been drowned out, the article reports. And overwhelmingly, those experiences have been positive. “It’s about getting [students] to become critical thinkers on their own,” says Merlinda Maldonado, a sixth-grade teacher in Denver. Noting the standards set a floor for where students should be, Kristy Straley, a New Mexico teacher says, “Common Core has definitely led to a path where we collaborate because we have to.”

What It Means: Despite concerted attacks, educators remain overwhelmingly supportive of the Common Core. As the article reports, the standards put a greater emphasis on understanding and students’ ability to explain their reasoning, helping to develop stronger analytical skills. A Scholastic study last fall found more than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with the Common Core reported an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.

NPR Atlanta, “State Superintendent: Ga. Won’t Require ‘Funny Math Methods’”: Georgia State Superintendent Richard Wood wrote recently that students could struggle to learn if teachers use “funny math methods,” but that under Common Core those decisions are left to local teachers and education boards. Teachers can still choose how to teach; they don’t have to use one particular method, the article notes.

What It Means: Common Core ensures what is taught in classrooms, and how it’s taught, is a decision left to teachers and local school boards. While the standards encourage multiple problem-solving techniques to develop strong conceptual understanding, teachers have full discretion over what methods they use in the classroom to meet student learning needs. By setting a high bar, and giving teachers full control of how to reach it, the Common Core ensures more students will develop the skills to succeed at higher levels of learning, and ultimately to graduate high school prepared for college or a career.

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Correcting the Record:

WND, “Crimes Perpetrated against Your Children”: Phyllis Schlafly, an outspoken Common Core critic, writes that “the new attempt to federalize what schools teach” is part of a broader “socialist” plan to “undermine the U.S. capitalist system” and “get rid of high literacy and independent intelligence.” Summarizing a new book by Samuel Blumenfield that argues education systems discourage literacy, Schlafly calls the Common Core “an educational fraud.”

Where They Went Wrong: Contrary to Schlafly’s claims, Common Core State Standards set high learning goals and put a greater emphasis on non-fiction texts, in addition to traditional literature, to ensure students develop the skills to succeed at higher levels of learning. According to a Scholastic poll last fall, more than two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the standards reported an improvement in their students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities, and more than eight in 10 were enthusiastic about implementation. Similarly, a Teach Plus study this year found 79% of teacher participants said new high-quality assessments are better than those their states used before.