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Why Massachusetts Bailing On The Common Core Matters

Massachusetts is to American K-12 education what the NFL is to American sports fans: the standard by which everyone else is measured. So it’s big news when the state decides to change course with its policies, which it just did with regards to the once-celebrated and now-frequently-lamented Common Core education standards. Specifically, they’re ditching the Common Core’s testing regime.

Going forward, little Massachusetts-ites will be taking state-designed tests to determine math and reading readiness, instead of the Common Core-based PARCC (Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers) tests. This is bad news for backers of nationally standardized tests, who believe the best way to improve on the U.S.’s generally middling performance internationally is to hold all students accountable to the same benchmark. But it’s great news for guys like Louis CK, who memorably eviscerated the Common Core after his daughter’s math homework brought her to tears. It’s also good news for this electrical engineer dad, who was nearly brought to tears himself by his second grader son’s own math assignments.

Presumably, Massachusetts policy makers aren’t taking their cues from either guy. Rather, they’re likely responding to research showing the Common Core doesn’t seem to noticeably improve grades or college entrance scores. But it definitely seems to stifle a teacher’s ability to teach based on the needs of her students while enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.

And, while the rest of the country loves to give Massholes shit, the state frequently sets educational policy trends. Considering that the guy who championed Common Core from the Oval Office has changed his tune as well, the national standards might be on the same track as a David Ortiz home run in Fenway Park: going, going, gone