To help answer the question about whether the Common Core State Standards reflect what is necessary to be ready for college and careers, the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) has released its first report on this topic, Reaching the Goal: The Applicability and Importance of the Common Core State Standards to College and Career Readiness, which describes the degree to which the knowledge and skills contained in the Common Core State Standards will prepare students for postsecondary readiness.
During the study, EPIC researchers asked instructors from two- and four-year institutions in 25 course categories to rate each standard on its applicability and importance to their courses. A total sample of 1,897 courses from across the nation are included in the study, including courses associated with general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree and those associated with several career pathways.
All of the standards received high marks for applicability and importance. Individual ELA and literacy standards that relate to students mastering comprehension of nonfiction text with grade-appropriate complexity were highly rated, both generally and as they apply to specific content areas. Instructors placed relatively greater emphasis on standards that require students to extract key ideas and details from text, possess general writing skills and write routinely, and use research to support written analysis.
Mathematics standards with the highest ratings include standards related to reasoning quantitatively and interpreting functions. The Standards for Mathematical Practice received the highest importance ratings across all respondents. These standards emphasize problem solving, analytic thinking, and other thinking skills that appear to be useful in a wide range of postsecondary courses.
Ninety-eight percent of respondents agree that the Common Core State Standards as a whole sufficiently challenge students to engage higher-level cognitive skills required for postsecondary success. In response to the question of whether the standards omitted key knowledge and skills, nearly 84 percent responded no. A final open-ended question gave respondents an opportunity to offer opinions on the Common Core State Standards. The largest proportion of responses provided specific examples of why students may be entering college and careers underprepared.
The report suggests that students who are generally proficient in the Common Core State Standards will likely be ready for a wide range of postsecondary courses – and the more Common Core State Standards that students master, the wider the range of postsecondary-level classes they will be ready to undertake and complete successfully.
In tandem with the report’s overall assessment of the Common Core State Standards, Dr. David Conley, CEO of EPIC and director of the study explains, “other important dimensions of readiness exist, upon which the Common Core State Standards are necessarily silent. Careful attention should be given to more complete conceptions of college and career readiness.” With this caveat in mind, the study finds the Common Core State Standards to be highly applicable to and important for postsecondary readiness.
The mission of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) is to improve educational policy and practices that will increase student success, particularly for students historically underserved by public schools. EPIC conducts a range of policy-related research studies and is distinguished by its pioneering use of state-of-the-art, criterion-based, standards-referenced methods of course and document analysis. To learn more about EPIC’s work, please visit https://www.epiconline.org/.