Measuring Effects of the Common Core
This report’s analysis uses surveys of state implementation to model different Common Core State Standards (CCSS) starting points for states and produces a second early report card on how CCSS are doing. An initial report card that focused on math was presented in a previous Brown Center Report. The current study updates state implementation ratings that were presented in the first report and extends the analysis to achievement in reading. The goal of the paper is to estimate CCSS’s early impact, and also lay out a fair approach for establishing when CCSS’s impact began.
This Brown Center Report (BCR) web page summarizes findings from a larger report that also addresses student engagement and gender performance in reading, and it provides an insightful perspective on the impact CCSS might, or might not, be having on NAEP scores. The report analyzed NAEP data and two indexes of CCSS implementation, one based on data collected in 2011, the second from data collected in 2013. NAEP scores for 2009-2013 were examined. The report notes that fourth grade reading scores improved by 1.11 scale score points in states with strong implementation of CCSS compared to states that did not adopt CCSS. A similar comparison in the past year’s BCR found a 1.27 point difference on NAEP’s eighth grade math test, also in favor of states with strong implementation of CCSS. The report communicates these findings in both a web page summary and within a longer PDF report that can be downloaded. The format of both are visually appealing with charts and tables profiling data findings. Both the utility and findings of effectiveness for this report would depend on a user’s purpose. Relative to measuring CCSS effectiveness and comparative gains by states fully implementing CCSS, the report concludes: these differences, although encouraging to CCSS supporters, are quite small, amounting to (at most) 0.04 standard deviations (SD) on the NAEP scale. A threshold of 0.20 SD – five times larger- is often invoked as the minimum size for a test score change to be regarded as noticeable. The current study’s findings are also merely statistical associations and cannot be used to make causal claims.