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Myth v. Fact: Taking on the Tallest Tales about Common Core State Standards

  • College and Career Pathways

    College and Career Pathways

    Rigorous academic standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, will prepare students for college and careers. The Foundation supports policies that set high academic standards and provide rigorous preparatory courses and dual-enrollment options for students.
  • Standards and Accountability

    Standards and Accountability

    Students and schools must be held to high academic standards, with their progress measured and results reported in simple, transparent formats. The Foundation supports standardized measurement of student learning, including annual comprehensive end-of-course assessments in elementary, middle and high school, as well as grading schools on an A-F scale – just like students.

In recent days, Common Core State Standards have been blamed for everything from promoting Communism in schools to using iris scans to track children to hurting teachers by dictating curriculum and teaching methods.

Is any of that true? No.

It’s time to get honest about the movement to raise academic standards across the country.

What You Need to Know About Common Core State Standards:

Common Core State Standards define what students need to know at each grade level. They are simple, clear and rigorous academic expectations and do not dictate curriculum – meaning how teachers teach, how students learn and the materials used for instruction.
Research shows that for decades, the education establishment has lowered academic standards in our schools. The result has been generations of Americans students not adequately prepared for college or the workforce, which has ultimately led to a decline in American competitiveness.

A few years ago, to address the poor state of academic standards across the nation, states and bold education reformers teamed up to establish Common Core State Standards. They are rigorous, streamlined, relevant, and better prepare students for college and the workforce.  Common Core standards challenge students to read critically, write extensively, and solve real-world math problems at greater capacity, raising the bar for all students and resulting in a more valuable education. The standards are benchmarked to high international standards to guarantee that American students are prepared to succeed in the 21st century global economy.

To date, more than 45 states have voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards.

Want to learn more about Common Core State Standards? Visit the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even better, don’t take our word for it; instead, take a moment to read the actual standards at

Now, let’s take a look at some of the biggest myths recently spread about Common Core.

Myth v. Fact: Taking on the Tallest Tales About
Common Core State Standards

Claim: “Common Core means federal control of school curriculum, i.e., control by Obama administration left-wing bureaucrats.”

Fact:  Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum.  States voluntarily chose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.

Claim: “Polk County (Florida) schools conducted iris scans on students without permission” as part of new Common Core standards.

Fact: This is absolutely not true. Common Core is a set of academic standards. Here is an example of one of the English standards for reading in the third grade: “Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes.” Polk County was piloting a new school bus safety program for students that involved eye scanning. What does this have to do with Common Core some may ask? Absolutely nothing.

Claim: “It’s not only public schools that must obey the fed’s dictates. Common Core will control the curriculum of charter schools, private schools, religious schools, Catholic schools and homeschooling.”

Fact: While the Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked, rigorous, clear and straightforward enough to lend themselves easily to voluntary adoption by charter schools, private and faith-based schools and home schools, these entities will continue to have maximum flexibility on how and what they teach their kids. Whether schools of choice have to conform to state accountability policies remains a state, not a federal decision.

Claim: “The Common Core academic level is lower than what many states use now.”

Fact: A Thomas B. Fordham Institute study showed that Common Core State Standards are superior to standards currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the new standards are superior in both math and reading.  The shared standards will Increase accountability by providing transparent data that allows for true comparisons across state lines.

Claim: “The suggested readings include a sales talk for government health care (such as Obamacare) and global warming propaganda (including a push for Agenda 21). Some of the fiction suggested is worthless and even pornographic, presumably chosen to reflect contemporary life. Another suggested reading favorably describes Fidel Castro and his associates without any indication they are tyrants, Communists and mass murderers.”

Fact: None of this is true. There is no mention of Obamacare, Fidel Castro, Global Warming, Agenda 21 in the Common Core State Standards.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative website does provide a suggested list of fiction and non-fiction texts as examples for teachers, but they are not required.  The ultimate decision is up to local districts and teachers. Parents concerned about what their child might be required to read must be involved in their child’s education and vigilant to review their assignments, just as they must be vigilant today.

Common Core State Standards simply require greater analysis, critical thinking and reading comprehension than most states expect of their students. In fact, the standards place a greater emphasis on the reading of more difficult-to-understand “original texts,” such as President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” creating a greater understanding of more rigorous material – exactly what is expected in accelerated high school courses, such as Advanced Placement courses, at the college level and in the workforce.

If you are interested in learning more about what the Common Core State Standards are, and just as importantly, what they are not, check out more ‘myths v. facts’ about the standards here.