Will Common Core Make the Dropout Situation Worse?

images (26)My daughter has started calling me during the day from school for all kinds of reasons, from “Mommy, my shoes are uncomfortable,” to “I don’t like  my snack. Would you bring me something different?”  They sound like small, and your first response may be “I hope you nipped that in the bud,” and under normal circumstances, I would have.  My problem, however, is two-fold: she’s never done this, and she’s been in tears each time she called.

I know that she is not being bullied, and while Common Core has dampened her love of math significantly, she likes school–I think.

She used to love school, until she started school this past August, which just happens to be when Common Core went to Colorado schools as well.  Her enthusiasm has waned, and it is harder and harder to motivate her to do any homework except reading.  She used to self-motivate, usually having her homework completed before our designated homework time.  She gets a dull look in her eyes whenever we talk about school, and, during my time volunteering at her school, I notice more and more seat work.  I am not aware of any handson projects that have taken place at all during this school year.

She’s bored.  This is a red flag for a potential dropout.

It was never a problem until Common Core entered the picture, and our story is not unique. Which is why I wrote this article.  While high school dropout rates are slowly declining, it is still an issue.  Currently, 85% of students graduate from high school.  That leaves 15% who don’t.  I have solid experience with dropout prevention, personally  and professionally, and I have experienced first-hand the reasons that reliable research, as well as students themselves, which are:

  • Didn’t like school in general or the school they were attending, a prime indicator of disengagement
  • Were bored or did not see any relevance in what they were learning
  • Had a disability
  • Were failing, getting poor grades, or couldn’t keep up with school work
  • Failed a grade or were held back
  • Didn’t get along with teachers and/or students–basically did not fit in
  • Had disciplinary problems, were suspended, or expelled
  • Were bullied or didn’t feel safe in school
  • Got a job, had a family to support, or had trouble managing both school and work
  • Got married, got pregnant, or became a parent
  • Had a drug or alcohol problem
  • Other unmet needs, such as poverty, health needs and abuse

I am going to come back to that list in a minute.

To put this in a different perspective, 3 million students out of a total of  50.1 million  total  enrolled in public school drop out of school each year.  Hispanics and other foreign-born students make up the highest portion of students who leave school before they have earned a diploma. I am singling out hispanics and foreign students, 

There are approximately 10 million hispanic students in public schools. The dropout rate for Hispanics between age 16 and 19 who have poor English language skills is 59 percent, and nearly 40 percent of immigrant Mexicans are high school dropouts.

There are over 8 million black students enrolled in public school, and of those, 8% drop out of school, keeping in mind that this trend, like the overall dropout rate, has slowly declined over the past decade.

The table below summarizes the graduation vs dropout trend over the past several decades:

High School Graduation Rates_vickellychart

I told you all of that so that I could talk about the future of high school graduation rates, which I predict will decline, and I will tell you why.

Could the Common Core State Standards affect high school graduation rates? written by Kelly Griffith and Victor Sensenig, notes that the dip in graduation rates correlates with the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and increased graduation requirements.  If you are at all familiar with NCLB, you may remember that it talked about increasing graduation rates, but it never addressed any of the above causal factors.

Common Core picks up where NCLB left off.  The standards hit us over the head every single day with the word “rigorous,” yet “rigorous” does mean better.  Common Core pushes inappropriate material onto the lower grades, and then dumbs-down the curriculum starting in middle school.  It forces teachers to teach to the test, and mandates standardized testing in order to pass to the next grade and graduate from high school that have proven to be ineffective in measuring college and career readiness AND are ridiculously difficult to take (not because the students aren’t learning, but because they are poorly written and scored).  Common Core tramples the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), leaving students with disabilities in a hopeless position, and it has already notably increased student stress levels to detrimental levels.

Common Core has pushed down developmentally inappropriate skills and concepts to the younger grades, as young a kindergarten. Young children across the country are stressed, confused, and emotionally disturbed as a result. They are then tested on concepts and skills their brains are not capable of understanding.  How would you feel in their shoes?  Perhaps this is a good time to point out that kindergarten is where the dropout pattern is set.  Take another look at the list up above.  80% of the list is a reality for our nation’s kindergarteners right now, because of Common Core.

Gregory P. Hickman, Ph.D., professor at Walden University and Associate Editor for Journal of At-Risk Issues, as well as the former Director of Arizona’s Dropout Initiative research Interests that included educational psychology, at-risk children and adolescents,  as well as the impact of parenting on child development, programmatic evaluations, high school dropouts, and college retention and adjustment.   In 2008, he published an article in The Journal of Educational Research that noted, “it appears that the majority of students do not deviate from the developmental pathway set forth from kindergarten. As students’ developmental progression unfolds, not only do they continue down the pathway that they established early, but also they become more entrenched in their initial developmental progression, regardless of pathway.”

Do you see where I am going with this?

The two states that implemented Common Core’s standardized testing, Kentucky and New York, both saw significant dips in scores.  Keep in mind that students must pass these tests to advance to the next grade and graduate from high school.  Only 31% of 3rd through 8th grade students were proficient in math and english, and eligible for grade advancement. Kentucky saw similarly dismal results.

Harder tests do not mean accurate tests or better education reform.  In fact, effectiveness of standardized testing is well-researched, providing clear conclusive evidence that it does not, in fact, measure learning. It measures test-taking skills, and fails to take into account a host of relevant factors and critical skills that can’t be measured on a test.

The National Education Association’s (NEA) report “Preventing Future High School Dropouts,” and out of 158 pages, I saw only one page in which two of the above reasons students drop out of school briefly mentioned.  The rest of the report focuses on the economic impact of students who drop out of school.  The recommendations given in the “guide” fell into three categories: increased data collection, compulsory early childhood education with lots of data collected, and earlier “interventions” involving the parents and the home, with lots of data collection.  The report contains some fabulous material built around that; however, the report has to be fully interpreted in the context of the current education reform efforts in which “intrusive ” and “forced” rule the day.”

Simply put, I predict more students dropping out of school.  The writing is on the wall.  I also strongly believe that this is intentional, for it will “weed out” those that elitists view as undesirable for a utopian global workforce.  The Gates Foundation (I know, shocker) makes recommendations for “alternative” education to facilitate some form of high school diploma that are highly supported in the NEA’s report. These recommendations essentially remove many at-risk students from regular schools and place them in alternative schools and programs.  You think these students will have access to an excellent education then?

Common themes and common non-educational goals, along with common special interest and corporate pundits, comprise the Common Core.

As the Griffith and Sensenig articles remarks, “… improving school quality is a more difficult task than increasing academic graduation requirements, which do not address the cognitive and socioemotional resources that many economically disadvantaged students require before high school.”

Stop Common Core.

We can stop Common Core!

We can stop Common Core!

Related Articles

Finishing High School: Alternative Pathways and Dropout Recovery

Fact Sheet: Is the Dropout Problem Real?

Is Common Core Too Hard?