Common Core State Standards and Exit Exams

Students in Computer Lab --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I had a story from The74.org from earlier this month bookmarked, but haven’t had time to address it. The story is entitled “The Exit Exam Paradox: Did States Raise the Standards So High They Had to Lower the Bar to Graduate?”

Let me answer that question… No.

Here’s an excerpt of a story that is based on a false premise – states raised standards.

Implementation of the Common Core has run headlong into high school exit exams, which many states require students to pass in order to graduate. But now states that have adopted the Common Core are grappling with whether raising academic standards should also mean making it harder to graduate.

To supporters, tough graduation requirements are necessary to encourage student effort and ensure a diploma “means something.” Some have even pushed for requiring students to demonstrate “college and career readiness” in order to graduate.

But decades of research now show that exit exams have not really raised standards, and have actually harmed disadvantaged students.

Now, as states reassess the pairing of graduation tests and Common Core, some are scaling back on the use of tough tests as a requirement for a high school diploma — perhaps an unintended, but welcome result of the the Common Core….

….The enterprise has been complicated by the introduction of the Common Core standards, and the tests connected to them. In most states, far fewer students were rated “proficient” on the Common Core–aligned tests than on the old assessments, which was by design — the standards were raised to better indicate “college and career readiness.” New York for example saw less than a third of students meet the new proficiency bar, down from around half.

But if states enforced similarly stringent requirements for exit exams, graduation rates — now over 80 percent nationally — would plummet and political outrage would ensue. Some even predicted that the high school dropout rate might double.

Can we dispense with the talk that Common Core actually raised standards? It didn’t. What it did do is throw classrooms in disarray. It frustrated kids with age-inappropriate standards. It frustrated elementary school teachers with the way it wanted them to teach math. It left those who actually practice in STEM fields scratching their heads because of the way math is taught. It doesn’t even prepare students for STEM programs in college.

To top it off student NAEP scores dropped since Common Core’s implementation and the assessment is not aligned to Common Core.  What Common Core has done is made a hot mess out of our education system. Is it any wonder that test scores are dropping with assessments that haven’t even been validated?