A Common Yardstick: Common Core Standards

In the June 13th edition of Education Week , Debra Viadero reports on the results of a newly released study by the Annie E Casey Foundation on the significance of getting children to read by the end of third grade.  The findings reveal the eighty-five percent of poor 4th graders in predominantly low-income schools are failing to reach ‘proficient’ levels in reading on federal tests.

“The evidence is clear that those students who do not read well have a very tough time succeeding in school and graduating from high schools and going on to successful careers and lives,” said Ralph R. Smith, the executive vice-president of the Baltimore based Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released the report last month.

The foundation argues that many states, facing pressure to boost students’ scores on state exams, have lowered the proficiency bar.  Using NAEP as the measuring stick, 68% of all 4th graders scored below proficient on the 2009 tests.  Percentages ranged from Massachusetts at 53% to Lousiana at 82%.  This variation clearly underscores the need for a set of common performance standards as outlined by the Common Core Standards Initiative .

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