The Corner


Common Core Versus College Readiness

Any time government starts tinkering with things to improve them, the result will be little or no improvement, but a host of new problems. The governmental tinkering with K–12 education provides many examples, most recently Common Core. It is supposed to improve K–12 education across the country and raise “college readiness” among high-school grads. (Getting more kids into college is a leftist obsession because it means more jobs for Democratic-party supporters and implants lots of leftist ideas in young brains, but that’s another story.)

In today’s Martin Center article, Joy Pullmann of Heartland distils her new book The Education Invasion and shows that Common Core might make some students more ready for vocational training (which is what “college” increasingly is), but it will make most less ready for the kind of work we used to associate with college.

One problem with Common Core is that its standards call for a 70–30 division between “informational texts” and literature in reading throughout K–12. The problem is that reading of complex material does more to prepare students for what they should read and write about in college than “informational” material. “Common Core,” she writes, “means that students will read fewer pages of Dickens and Dostoyevsky and more pages devoted to such informational material as federal administrative orders.”

Another defect in Common Core is its standards for math, which will mean that more high-school graduates will enter college needing remedial math. That, in turn, means fewer students who will have any chance at getting through any STEM program, so we’ll have more of them heading into squishy college majors that don’t call for any competence in math. Thanks to Common Core, we’ll probably get more sociologists and fewer engineers.

Pullmann concludes by arguing that Common Core further lowers the bar for college admission. She writes, “To enter college, high school graduates have traditionally been required to demonstrate academic preparation that exceeds the average, not merely the ability to scrape by the lowest graduation requirements. Americans formerly sent to college the particularly academic-minded, and our graduation and entrance requirements for both institutions reflected that distinction. By declaring that Common Core is good enough, we undermine the need to strive for excellence that used to drive students.”

She’s right.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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