Common Core Curriculum and California

By Mary McNulty

It is hard to remember any issue that has sparked such a debate in education as the Common Core Curriculum. California finds itself in the minority by supporting the recent national roll out. According to the California Teachers Association, 88 percent of the membership backs the program. The national number, supplied by Education Next, is far different at 50 percent.

Many parents are confused over the necessity of the Common Core Curriculum and feel they have had little if any involvement in the process. The concern is that the Common Core standards will bring down the system. It is believed courses will be taught for testing success at the lowest level. The Common Core State Standards Initiative answered this and other concerns explaining:

“Since this work began, there has been an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards. The standards were informed by the best in the country, the highest international standards, and evidence and expertise about educational outcomes.” This and other concerns are addressed online at:

The original California budget for discretionary spending on the program was an astronomical $2.4 billion, awarded over the last two years. The 2016-2017 plan seeks an additional $1.2 billion. Many are concerned with the limited number of restrictions on its use – the money will be quickly lost in the bureaucracy, with no real accountability, despite the program’s massive documentation. The math requirement is covered in 162 pages and English in 98.

The documents present very distinct goals at each grade level. In grade 1 math, for example, guidelines call for basic addition and subtraction, ability to tell time, and basic understanding of shapes. In grade 1 language arts, for example, standards require the ability to re-tell the story, understand illustrations, and who is telling the story.

The state has supplied practice tests to prepare students at each grade level. The English exam reflects in many ways the “old school” method as demonstrated by the test samples. The math portion has created the most controversy by recreating the process. It is best to refer to the attachment for a better understanding:

The question now becomes, is this tremendous amount of money reflected in improved student results? Quite simply the answer is “no,” according to Ed Surge.Com. Test scores show California students in grades 3 to 8 and 11, fall below the national level. Only 44 percent of California’s 3.2 million test takers met or exceeded the English language arts portion. With math, the number within the meet/exceeds category dropped to 34 percent.

As with a majority of testing, socioeconomics played a large role in the success rate of the student. White and Asian students fared much better than Hispanics and Blacks.

“There are some notable disparities in how different groups performed: 65 percent of English language learners, 46 percent of African-American students, 41 percent of Native American students, and 39 percent of Hispanic students scored in the lowest grade category (‘Standard Not Met’), versus 12 percent for Asian students and 18 percent for white students. The gap is even more pronounced for the mathematics portion of the test. And students in non-economically disadvantaged households were more than twice more likely to meet or exceed proficiency standards than their less fortunate peers.” To view full test results, search “Common Core Test Results” at

In 2015, California ranked 31 nationally, as far as graduation rates are concerned ( The score does not speak well especially for the disadvantaged. Whether the Common Core Curriculum is the answer to insure California improves its educational standards is yet to be determined. One measurement of its success can be found in the increased interest parents now have in the education process and courses. The key is to keep parental involvement in the forefront, working with educators to ensure California regains its footing as a national education leader.

August 10, 2016

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