cross-post from the Detroit Free Press
The Common Core educational standards shouldn't be controversial. For most folks, the grade-by-grade expectations detailed in the core standards would be things you learned back in school, and that you’d assume students today are still learning. So why has the Michigan House of Representatives voted to approve a budget that doesn't include the funding necessary to implement these standards?
Ideology, not education.
The U.S. educational system is a zig-zag of methodology and expectations. The federal No Child Left Behind Act required students to become proficient in math, reading and other skills, but allowed states to create their own assessments. Making a tough test wasn't rewarded; an easy-pass test wasn't punished.
So many states created tests that weren't reliable gauges of either a student’s educational attainment or the educational system itself. Compare the results of National Assessment of Educational Progress with state-level tests like the Michigan Educational Achievement Program; the national test paints a much less rosy picture of educational achievement.
That’s why, in 2011, Michigan adjusted the “cut scores” (the cut-off at which students are deemed to have passed) for the MEAP test. When Michigan made it more difficult to meet MEAP standards of proficiency, student scores plummeted.