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Gold Standards?: State Standards Reform and Student Achievement

  • Goodman, Joshua

    (Harvard University)

Proponents of the recent and widely adopted Common Core State Standards argue that high quality curricular standards are critical to students' educational success. Little clear evidence exists, however, linking the quality of such standards to student achievement. I remedy this by connecting data on state-level student achievement from 1994-2011 with measures of the quality of states' curricular standards as judged by two independent organizations at three different moments in time. I show that, within states, changes in the quality of standards have little impact on overall student achievement. Improved standards do, however, raise achievement of 8th graders in low-scoring states, particularly for low-scoring students. Given the known weaknesses of U.S. middle schools, this result suggests that standards may be beneficial in settings where pedagogy would otherwise be poor.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp12-031.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-031
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  1. Goodman, Joshua, 2012. "The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory Math Coursework," Working Paper Series rwp12-032, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R., 2013. "The impact of alternative grade configurations on student outcomes through middle and high school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 308-326.
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