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Report: High school diplomas don’t support Common Core


According to a recent report, many states have yet to practice a critical 21st Century skill: Common sense. The report reveals that although most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), their diplomas remain CCSS deficient.

The report, “Out of Sync,” produced by Change the Equation (CTEq) and the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE), found that of the 45 states and the District of Columbia that have voluntarily adopted Common Core, only 11 have aligned their graduation requirements in mathematics with those standards.

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The report notes that even though these states adopted CCSS, by not creating a Common Core-worthy diploma, they have yet to take a critical step towards making those standards a reality.

“They do not require high school graduates to complete the math classes that typically cover the content described in the new standards,” explains the report.

“Until states and districts re-examine their graduation policies, a high school diploma will not necessarily signify college- and career-readiness as envisioned by the Common Core,” the report continues.

In producing the report, CTEq and CPE compared states’ high school graduation requirements in math to the CCSS to see how well they aligned. Both institutions found that graduation requirements most aligned with CCSS “must include math in each year of high school and convey substantial content typically taught in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II classes.”

After analyzing each CCSS state, the report found that graduation requirements in only 11 states meet this definition of alignment, and requirements in 13 are only partially aligned; leaving 22 states without corresponding graduation requirements that match the expectations of the new standards.

Perhaps even more shocking is the revelation that some CCSS states with rigorous requirements are rolling them back. For example, Florida recently removed Algebra II from its requirements, and Michigan may follow suit, says the report.

“Indeed, the ‘traditional’ course pathway—Algebra , Geometry, Algebra II, and further mathematical coursework—might neglect critical Common Core content or mathematical practices if the courses are not re-examined and aligned to the new demands and teachers are prepared to teach the content,” explains the report. “States and districts whose requirements stop before Algebra II are even less likely to expose all their high school students to the full range of Common Core material.”

However, the report notes that course content does not have to be called “Algebra II,” and many states and districts may decide to organize CCSS content into alternative “pathways toward high school graduation that do not easily align with traditional course titles.”

Yet, according to the report, few states have clearly defined such alternatives as of press time.

“In order to ensure that a high school diploma is meaningful, states and school districts must transform their expectations to ensure that all students can learn the content called for in Common Core,” said Change the Equation CEO Linda P. Rosen in a statement.

“Developing strong educational standards and graduation requirements are important for improving student achievement and success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of NSBA. “Common Core State Standards provide an opportunity for states and local school districts to reexamine the graduation requirements they are setting for their students.”

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