Within the last two weeks both houses of Congress passed legislation that will effectively cement the Common Core national standards, or something very similar, in state school systems (politicians’ claims to the contrary are unfortunately mistaken). In light of clear evidence that Common Core is substandard, the creators and proponents are busily rearranging the educational furniture to hide the evidence.
The central problem for the proponents is that students trained (not educated) under the minimal, non-academic, workforce-development Common Core standards will not perform as well on legitimate tests as did their predecessors. Under the new direction of Common Core architect David Coleman, the College Board has addressed that problem by dumbing down the SAT. Making the SAT easier for Common Core victims (for example, by abolishing the writing section and the hard vocabulary words) helps them appear to be as prepared for college as were previous students.
But the SAT isn’t the only test that might reveal the decline in college-readiness. For years, SAT competitor ACT has offered other college-readiness tests called EXPLORE (given in the 8th or 9th grade) and PLAN (given in the 10th). These two tests are aligned to the ACT college-entrance examination and have proven to be good predictors of college-readiness.
That EXPLORE and PLAN are a threat to the Common Core narrative is evident from recent experience in Kentucky. Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute reports that Kentucky students’ latest performance from the 2014-15 school term on the two tests raises red flags about the effectiveness of Common Core.