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American Test Scores Decline… Gee, Wonder Why?

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n 2013 Michael Cohen of Achieve, Inc. (an organization integral to developing and marketing the Common Core national standards) testified in New York that Common Core is a long-term education experiment on our children: “The full effects… won’t be seen until an entire cohort of students, from kindergarten through high school graduation, has been effectively exposed to Common Core teaching.” Four years later we may not be seeing the full effects, but heaven help us when we get there.

The most recent red flag comes from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), an international assessment of the reading skills of representative samples of fourth-graders. As reported by the Washington Post, the 2016 PIRLS results show U.S. students tumbling from fifth in the world to thirteenth. Scores fell by seven points from those achieved by fourth-graders in 2011, the last time scores were released.

Hmm. What could have happened in schools between 2011 and 2016 that might have affected the academic performance of eight-year-olds? A Harvard education professor speculated that the 2009 recession and that old reliable — poverty — could have been the culprits. Education Secretary and on-again off-again Common Core supporter Betsy DeVos couldn’t identify a specific factor but suggested we need to “rethink school.”

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