Education Sec. Arne Duncan says the Common Core standards may initially lead to lower test scores, but the initiative is a step in the right direction.
Most jurisdictions in the country have adopted new, more rigorous academic standards, including Maryland and D.C. And while Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling the Common Core standards a huge step in the right direction, he's warning people not to be alarmed if test scores drop as a result.
Duncan says when the academic bar is set higher, what often happens is test scores go down. And achievement gaps between groups, which are already often large, often become larger.
He gives the example of Tennessee: "They saw test scores in math go from about 90 percent proficient to about 30 percent proficient."
But Duncan says test scores go down because in his words, "we're telling the truth for the first time."
"That's the brutal truth, that's the reality," he says. "We have to stop lying to students and families, we have to be very, very honest and move from there."
The new standards are more in line with what other countries such as Finland, Hong Kong and Korea are teaching their students. Students in D.C. and Maryland will take a test based on the new Common Core standards during the next academic year. Virginia has not signed on to the new standards.