Common Core: Slingshot to Progress or Spider Web? Part 3 of 5 [Benchmarking, Involvement of the States and Teachers, Push to Gain Adoption by the States]

The two previous segments dealt with the founding strategy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) process, followed by how and by whom it was developed and then an assessment of the Common Core standards by the Committee and those opposed.  This article in the series will review conflicting claims as to who actually created the standards, their level of expertise in education versus other interests, and why the push to get the standards adopted by states.

[Link to Part 1, Part 2]

Were  the  Standards  Internationally  Benchmarked?

The Common Core site states that “Standards from top-performing countries played a significant role in the development of the math and English language arts/literacy standards. In fact, the college- and career-ready standards provide an appendix listing the evidence that was consulted in drafting the standards, including the international standards that were consulted in the development process.”1

Maybe they did, but the end result appears to fall way short according to Stanford’s Professor James Milgram, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee. Professor Milgram did not sign off on the math standards.  He declared that the standards would put many students two years behind those 8th graders in high-achieving countries and even farther behind through high school.2

Another questioned the CCSS’ use of international benchmarking because of its apparent disregard for what made successful countries so accomplished:

“In ELA [English Language Arts], countries that score at the highest level also have patterns of emphasis in different grade spans that differ substantially from the CCSS, with a greater emphasis overall on ‘perform procedures’ than in the CCSS. The big surprise is that a significant part of ‘perform procedures’ in mathematics and ELA is following directions and completing highly conventional assignments, free of elaborated analysis and generalization.  In other words, compliance with the conventions of schooling has a strong association with higher test scores. Wowzie. Who would have guessed that learning to follow directions mattered so much?”3

…And while we’re battling over national standards, here’s something which will send some supporters of Common Core into orbit:  there’s no proof that setting national standards is effective.

Supporters argue that most countries that beat us on international exams have national standards. True, but so do most countries that finish below us.  There is little deeper research on this, but what there is suggests that once you control for variables such as income and culture, national standards have no effect.”4

But  Didn’t  CCSS  Involve  “Teachers,  States,  and  Leading  Thinkers?”

Sure, “state chiefs” became involved… 3-1/2 years after The American Diploma Project (ADP) released its report in 2004 which provided the basis for a set of “common expected outcomes for high school graduates.”  These outcomes continued practically unchanged on their journey toward the CCSS, regardless of the opinions of others.5

The NGA (National Governors Association) joined the CCSSO and Achieve in issuing their benchmarking report in December 2008.  The Common Core timeline makes no mention of the 2004 ADP benchmarking report which was the framework for the standards.6  (By the way, the ADP was a creation of the Education Trust, the Fordham Institute, the National Alliance of Business and, you guessed it, the “state led” Achieve.5 – see Part 2)

The ADP said its report was based on “over two years of research” identifying those “benchmarks” which American high school graduates would need to be successful in college and beyond.

As Mercedes Schneider also pointed out in her blog, two years might be sufficient for a project focusing on the high school level, but is not adequate to produce a comprehensive set of K-12 English and math standards.   She also suggested this could be why Professor Sandra Stotsky, as a member of the CCSS Validation Committee, was unable to get any cooperation locating the “research” used for the CCSS English standards.  This report appears to be all there is!5

To make things worse, “Classroom teachers were not included among those principally involved in the development of ADP benchmarks.”  Plus, “Neither would classroom teachers be among those at the CCSS development table.”5

Common  Core  Insists  “Yes,”  But  Actually  Only  Superficially

But wait, the Common Core site claims “Teachers were involved in the development process in four ways.”  They served on various work groups to “provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards” …“provided input on the Common Core State Standards during the two public comment periods,” etc.5

HOWEVER, Education Week blogger and science teacher Anthony Cody found that, of the 25 individuals in the work groups charged with drafting the standards, six were associated with the test makers from the College Board, five with the test publishers at ACT, and four with Achieve.  Zero teachers were in the work groups.  The feedback groups had 35 participants, almost all of whom were university professors. Cody found one classroom teacher involved in the entire process.  According to teacher educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige:

“In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.”7

Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.5

Here’s another hammer applied to the Common Core claims:

“Though preliminary drafts of the standards were released to the public, the standards were written behind closed doors by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — private organizations — and copyrighted. There is also no public record of the meetings available.”6

This proves why Common Core has earned its nickname of “Obamacore.”

[RELATED on OCR: “Why I Proposed H.B. 237 to Repeal Common Core in Ohio”]

Another  Tell-tale  Sign:  Arbitrary  Rush  to  States’  Commitments

Just like its predecessor in the healthcare field, “Obamacare,” Common Core was pushed through the states approval process for no other reason than to make it official… so that we could then see what’s really in it.  Here are three examples of the CCSS’s high-pressure sales tactics:

1)  “Not only did RTTT application criteria advance the Common Core, but application deadlines forced states to rashly commit to the standards. The first two states that received RTTT grants had to promise to adhere to the Common Core by January 19, 2010, without ever seeing the standards. The second wave of states saw the finalized standards, but these states were given a mere two months to evaluate the Common Core against their own state standards and outline a detailed plan for implementation.”8

2) “Normally, to go through standards it would take years,” said Bill Evers, a researcher at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “In California, we had six weeks.”9

3) The Common Core Standards Initiative was announced June 1, 2009.  The final draft of the standards was released June 2, 2010 – the day after phase 2 applications were due. By September, 2010, 38 states had officially adopted the Common Core Standards.  The decision to adopt the standards was exclusively in the hands of the governors and the state boards of education, which left little or no time for assessment of the standards or discussions with parents or local leaders.

[Emmett] McGroarty (executive director of education at the American Principles Project) called the process of coercing the states into adopting standards without time to consult their people “perverse.” He told TheDC he has traveled the country and has yet to find a single legislator who knew about Common Core before their state signed onto it.

The Department of Education acknowledged it was an “ambitious timeline,” but said Race to the Top funds had to be obligated by September 2010.

Forced or not, the governors were put in a politically tough position of saying no to federal money in a recession — or adopting standards without much time to evaluate or discuss them. Leaving parents out of the process is unacceptable, said McGroarty.10

Push something through, without sufficient verification and review, then we’re stuck with it?  Sounds painfully familiar.

[Part 4 concludes with the crowning dangers in the Core and how some states are changing course.]


Oscar A. (Tony) Rubio is a writer who merges the lessons of history with current events to suggest a better path.  This Cincinnati native resides in Clermont county and believes that our national mood would be improved if we listened to more Big Band and Jazz.  He is certain that we must take action on the local and state levels now if we are to realize our hope that the White House will be occupied by the party which respects human life, the Constitution and Natural Law beginning on January 20, 2017.  Tony blogs at and

All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.


2 – “Backlash Against Common Core,” The Phyllis Schafly report, July 2013

3 – “Laura H. Chapman: The Common Core Standards Are Not Internationally Benchmarked, by Diane Ravitch,, 9/12/2014

4 – “Stop the rush to the Common Core,” by Neal McCluskey, Williamson Evers and Sandra Stotsky,, 7/1/2013

5 – “More on Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some,” 12/2/2013,

6 —

7 – “The Problems with the Common Core,” by Stan Karp,, winter 2013/14

8 – from “3) How is the federal government involved in the Common Core,”

9 –  “Lack of classroom testing, cost, quick approval worry Common Core critics,” by Philip Elliott,, 1/3/2014

10 – ”Is Common Core State Led?, by Rachel Stoltzfoos,, 3/17/2014


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