As I wrote yesterday, with the Kentucky legislature coming back into session, a big question to be decided is whether the state will continue to use the Common Core State Standards for its English language arts and math standards. Already, lines are forming, and poorly-aimed shots were fired last week in an Op-Ed that appeared under the title “Column: Common Core: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” in the Community Recorder newspaper in Northern Kentucky and under a different title in the Courier-Journal.
As often happens with such advocacy pieces, there is a very large amount of what the late Paul Harvey used to call “The rest of the story” that didn’t make it into the Op-Eds. Yesterday we discussed evidence from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that strongly disputes claims in the Op-Eds that Common Core is working in Kentucky. The data from the NAEP says no, at least so far Common Core isn’t making significant differences. But, the Op-Eds have other claims that need a better examination.
Today, let’s look at the Op-Eds’ claim that “88 percent of Kentucky’s educators and community stakeholders gave Common Core a thumbs up.”
This inflated number actually comes from a Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) program called the “Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge.”
The Challenge “requested feedback on the standards” but was strongly biased against any real calls for change. It was difficult and time-consuming to make even minor recommendations for changes. Comments calling for the complete replacement of the Common Core in Kentucky were not allowed at all. In sharp comparison, it was really easy in the online survey monkey used by the Challenge to just give the standards a “thumbs up.”
Most importantly, however, the KDE’s Challenge in no way produced a valid random sample of either teachers or citizens in general.
But, there is a much better “survey” available about what rank and file Kentuckians really think about Common Core. That compelling evidence came in last year’s gubernatorial election. Matt Bevin won handily on a platform that included the replacement of Common Core.
Bevin’s election provides by far the most important “survey” regarding Common Core. His election solidly trumps biased, non-random sample results from the Kentucky Department of Education. The governor – and a lot of legislators – both know that.