The new report takes a critical look at a 2012 study from researchers at Michigan State University, which compared each state’s pre-existing standards with the projected Common Core standards. In the original report, states with standards very similar to Common Core did better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. But when Brookings expanded the study to look at the entire period from 2009 to 2013, these findings did not hold up.
On a more positive, the report found that States that actually implemented Common Core itself saw improvements relative to those that did not. Unfortunately, the difference wasn’t particularly large. Brookings concludes:
… The variation among states [is] relatively small, [and] often fades to insignificance when considered in the more practical, real world terms of how much math students are learning. It is doubtful that even the most ardent Common Core supporter will be satisfied if the best CCSS can offer—after all of the debate, the costs in tax revenue, and blood, sweat, and tears going into implementation—is a three point NAEP gain.
The study does not prove that Common Core is ineffective, as the program is still in its early days. This is an inauspicious beginning, however, for a program with such enthusiastic backers, among them Bill Gates.