July 21, 2010
Despite Obama administration claims, research finds no link between achievement
scores and academic standards
Contact: William J. Mathis - (802) 383-0058; William.Mathis@colorado.edu 
BOULDER, Colo., and TEMPE, Ariz. (July 21, 2010) -- Very little evidence
supports the contention that establishing national academic standards for K-12
schools will improve the quality of American public education, and the standards
push may distract attention from other vital reforms necessary for our schools,
concludes the just-released policy brief The "Common Core" Standards Initiative:
An Effective Reform Tool?  The brief, authored by William J. Mathis, was
published today by Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC), at the
University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Education Policy Research Unit
(EPRU), at Arizona State University.
"Without addressing both the in-school and out-of-school influences on test
scores, common core standards are not likely to improve the quality and equity
of America's public schools," Mathis explains.
President Obama has embraced "common core" standards and has pressured states
to adopt them, stating to the National Governors Association (NGA) that it will
withhold federal Title I aid from states that do not adopt standards such as
those being developed by the NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
In addition, adopting the standards gives a state a major advantage in the
administration's Race to the Top application.
Standards advocates argue that common standards are necessary for keeping the
nation competitive in a global economy. But Mathis points out that research does
not support this oft-expressed rationale. No studies support a true causal
relationship between national standards and economic competitiveness, and at the
most superficial level we know that nations with centralized standards generally
tend to perform no better (or worse) on international tests than those without.
Further, research shows that national economic competitiveness is influenced far
more by economic decisions than by test scores.
Mathis also raises questions about the rapid development of the common-core
standards, the lack of field testing, and the overarching need for any
high-stakes consequences to be "valid," pursuant to established professional
guidelines. Given these concerns, he says that the prospect of positive effects
on educational quality or equality "seems improbable."
Find William Mathis's report, The "Common Core" Standards Initiative: An
Effective Reform Tool?, on the web at
Think Tank Research Quality: Lessons for Policy Makers, the Media, and the
Public, our new book based on the work of the Think Tank Review Project, is now
available from Information Age Publishing at
http://www.infoagepub.com/products/Think-Tank-Research-Quality , or from
Barnes & Noble at http://tinyurl.com/TTRQ-B-N .
The Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) at the University of
Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at Arizona
State University collaborate to produce policy briefs and think tank reviews.
Our goal is to promote well-informed democratic deliberation about education
policy by providing academic as well as non-academic audiences with useful
information and high quality analyses. This policy brief was made possible in
part by the generous support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research
Visit EPIC and EPRU at http://www.educationanalysis.org/ 
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(c)2010 EPIC. Education and the Public Interest Center, School of Education
249 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO 80309-0249.
Phone: 303-447-EPIC(3742) | www.epicpolicy.org .