Common Core Standards vs. American College Testing

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a policy that enumerates the academic benchmarks that high school graduates require in order to attain success in college and professional careers (Strauss, 2013). The policy is applicable to states that agree to adhere by its rules and regulations. Its rejection by educators and parents shortly after its adoption is a sign of its ineffectiveness and inefficiency (Strauss, 2013). There are alternatives that can be more efficacious than the Common Core. They include development of new standards and tests aligned with the standards, eradication of standards altogether, and adoption of American College Testing (ACT) standards.

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The CCSS has undergone adoption in many states in the United States. The framework provides a strategy to ensure that learners from high school have the required competencies and knowledge. It will allow them to be ready for college, and for successful careers. Moreover, the system will guarantee that the U.S. education system will produce individuals who meet international benchmarks characterized with high levels of performance (Allen and Le, 2014).

The preparation of the CCSS has many issues that would lead to its failure. For instance, there was minimal involvement by postsecondary stakeholders in the development of the standards. It was a major issue since the policy sought to determine college attendance. Moreover, the higher education community was not aware of the requirements of the policy. Ensuring the participation of higher education personnel would have ensured that they could apply high valued goals like increasing the number of students who complete college credentials. Additionally, it would have led to a reduction in the number of students in need of remedial.

It is imperative to come up with new standards for application in guiding the education system. The CCC lost the support from educators, parents, and teachers to several factors (Strauss, 2014). It is outdated, complicated, and too straightforward. Essentially, it had too many disadvantages that affected educators.

Literature review

The CCSS policy involves the implementation of a set of standards students at different levels should follow (New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, 2015). Moreover, the policy requires that students’ should not only provide a particular answer, but they should also apply particular strategies. Several states in the U.S. have adopted the policy. Proponents of the policy detail that the CCSS allows students to achieve specific goals and be ready for college (Decker, 2015). Despite the advantages, school districts have begun to develop new policies as major stakeholders consider the CCSS inefficient and even disadvantageous to the entire process of teaching and learning (Phillips & Wong, 2010).

The CCSS is problematic, as it has not changed anything within the education sector. It has led to an increasing number of students who ignore certain subjects since they are unable to meet the requirements. It arises from a situation where teachers get involved in ensuring the students are ready for the tests. They do not consider the preference of the students. It leads to a reduction in the quality of learning. Moreover, the standards set by the policy are hard to achieve for many students.

The policy allows the curriculum to teach the difficult material to students. Specifically, students in elementary school do tasks that once belonged to secondary school level (Griffith, 2011). Many scholars often see the policy as too strict. Students forcefully learn and internalize larger quantities of information within a short time. It creates a burden for the students. The parents also suffer, as they have to help their children while at home. These issues have made the policy an unattractive choice. It is vital to come up with a new alternative that is better for students, educators, and parents (Ellenberg, 2015).

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Research by Philip and Wong (2010) indicates that the current trend in CCSS does not serve society well. The CCSS is a way to provide opportunities for students to go to college. Despite this, there are a large number of students who are not lucky in passing the CCSS. Not all students are ready for college. Those who pass may end up failing in college. According to Griffith (2011), there is a gap between subgroups and normal groups.

The subgroups include subpopulations of students such as the gifted and improvised lifestyles. This group requires special education during application of the educational policy. It is vital that the CCSS considers their needs, or they will not gain for the policy.

Evaluation criteria


The American College Testing standards can be used as alternatives to the Common Core Policy. The standards evaluate the degree of student development of knowledge and skills in certain academic areas. They would be effective because they would monitor the academic progress of students from grades 3 through 12 (Anderson, 2014). The possible outcomes for this alternative include highly-specific standards on different academic areas, better learning due to application of superior instruction methods, increased student proficiency, better testing, and increased student incentives. The evaluation criteria would involve standardized tests that comprise written and oral tests. The main objective of tests would be to evaluate students and determine whether they are ready for college.

Advantages and disadvantages

ACT standards create a link between what students have learned and what they will learn later. Moreover, they incorporate surveys to ensure that the standards are aligned with what students will learn in college (Anderson, 2014). The Standards ensure that test scores relate to the skills that students need to succeed. In addition, they unravel and inculcate skills that students need to develop in certain academic areas in order to achieve their academic and career goals. The Standards can work more effectively than Common Core Standards because they link learning goals to educational expectations. ACT tests are research-based, immune to government interference, and evaluate whether students are ready for college (Standards alignment, 2015).

Unlike Common Core, ACT focuses on many course standards in various academic areas that blur the clarity and effectiveness of the policy. In addition, it does not customize instruction to the needs of specific students who have different learning styles and capabilities. Finally, it does not include extra student support and interventions as part of the core requirements for the attainment of success by students in academic endeavors.

Development of new standards and tests

Another alternative to the problem is development of new standards and tests. This alternative would involve conducting thorough research to determine the specific skills and knowledge that students need in order to succeed in different careers. Research would explore the weaknesses of the Common Core and other state standards and use the findings to create more effective standards and tests (Bloom, 2013). This alternative would lead to students that are more proficient because the standards would primarily focus on instilling knowledge and skills required for specific careers that students want to pursue. The evaluation criteria would involve the use of tests that align with the new standards and that adhere to desired learning outcomes and objectives..

Advantages and disadvantages

This alternative would only comprise standards that have been proven effective over time and through research. Different states have applied different standards over time. This alternative would study and adopt the standards that had positive effects on students. In addition, it would involve the participation of teachers, students, academics, policy think tanks, religious groups, educational agencies, and politicians (Bloom, 2013). Schools would be required to adopt the Common Core before the new standards are developed. Another approach to this alternative is to find states that have been successful in the application of their standards. For example, the standards used by Massachusetts prior to the adoption of Common Core have been appraised as potential model standards (Bloom, 2013).

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One of the disadvantages is that it would take a long time to implement it. Conducting research, holding public hearings, writing new standards, and creating tests to align with the standards would consume a lot of time (Bloom, 2013). For instance, the Common Core took 24 months to create. Another disadvantage is the high amount of money needed. This would burden the taxpayers and place great pressure on the education system. Waiting that long for new standards would affect students adversely.

Abolishment of the standards model

Abolishment of standards would involve complete abdication of academic benchmarks and the embracement of a model that focuses on students’ different gifts and capabilities. Setting standards makes it difficult for some students because of variations in learning styles and capabilities (Corbett, 2014). This alternative would encourage instructors to provide variety among students, develop their curiosity and aptitudes, customize teaching methods to different students, and challenge students to transcend memorizing information for the sake of tests (Corbett, 2014).

This alternative would increase moral among students because it would make learning interesting, agreeable, and an exciting experience. Completion of projects would be the main evaluation criteria. Standardized tests would not be included because they promote memorization of information rather than understanding.

Advantages and disadvantages

This alternative would be beneficial because it would take into consideration the learning needs and capabilities of all students. Teaching methods would aim to cater for the specific needs of individual students (Corbett, 2014). In addition, it would reduce the pressure that is placed on students to memorize information and attain certain grades in various academic areas. This would increase real learning and enhance the intrinsic motivation and desire to attain knowledge. It would also increase the level of student participation and engagement during learning.

Lack of standards could result to low quality of education because it would be very difficult for a teacher to customize teaching methods for individual students. This would make it tiresome, time consuming, and very expensive (Phillips & Wong, 2010). On the other hand, it would be difficult to develop tests to evaluate students’ proficiency and skills.

Possible solution

The ACT is the best alternative in this context. ACT is a useful measuring tool that will ascertain the educational achievement of students. The ACT will be a legitimate way to establish how well schools are doing, and will detail the performance of students. Its advantages arise from the inclusion of higher education stakeholders in its formulation (Phillips & Wong, 2010). This essential ingredient deviates from the CCSS.

Colleges will play a part in the progress of students, and will find it easier to trace their progress within the K12 systems. The ACT is effective as it is an accurate indicator of performance. It provides a way to determine how students are performing in different subjects and compares it to a national group. Colleges, to come up with course suggestions for students, can then use this information. Moreover, teachers will establish the needs of students.

The ACT acts as an avenue for change. It allows educational policy makers to determine areas that require resources or additional funding. For example, the government allocates special funds to support staff development and after-school lessons for low-performing students. The ACT is research based. It is efficient to administer as it makes it easy to trace the performance of students throughout the school system (Griffith, 2011). The ACT also links learning goals to educational expectations. It allows the students to have the necessary skills to achieve their academic and career goals. This information is vital to ensure that learners are ready for college.

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A disadvantage of the ACT, like most performance tests, is that it pushes teachers to follow a culture of permanent test preparations. The students attend classes with the ultimate goal of performing well in the test, and they do not learn. The test also has the disadvantage of negative pressures on schools. The salary and staffing for schools are dependent on the ACT, and schools will try to follow unethical ways to improve performance. For instance, they would rig the ACT. Students could also be required to attend classes that do not challenge them if they perform poorly. It leaves the students unmotivated.

The tests also do not measure the skills easily (Phillips & Wong, 2010). Even though the ACT would be vital in determining college applications, it does not measure the students’ knowledge of a given task. The ACT lacks credibility, as the results depend on what educators do in the classroom. Additionally, the use of multiple-choice questions means that the systems measures skills and knowledge, instead of problem solving and creativity.


In conclusion, the rampant rejection of the Common Core is a sign that the policy is ineffective and inefficient. Three potential alternatives include American College Testing (ACT) standards, development of new standards, and abolishment of the standards system. These alternatives have different pros and cons. However, they can make effective replacements for the Common Core Standards.

Students have different learning styles and capabilities. Therefore, developing a one-fit-all system is ineffective and inappropriate. They need individualized learning methods that cater to their varied learning desires, interests, aptitudes, and cognitive capabilities. The proposed alternatives would put into consideration the differences that exist among students and would emphasize the development of curiosity and individual aptitudes. In this regard, the ACT is the best possible solution to deal with the issues that have plagued the CCSS.

Feasibility of __

Evaluation Criteria __

Alternative #1

ACT (The American College Testing standards)

Alternative #2

Development of New Standards and Tests

Alternative #3

Abolishment of the Standards Model

Administrative High High High
Effectiveness High High Moderate
Ethical/Legal High High High
Financial Low Moderate Low
Political High High High

Figure 1: Alternative matrix.

Based on the alternative matrix, the ACT is a feasible solution in comparison to the other alternatives.


Allen, L., & Le, C. (2014). How to help struggling high school students reach Common Core standards. Web.

Anderson, D. (2014). Replacing Common Core with Proven Standards of Excellence. Web.

Bloom, M. (2013). Core questions: What are potential alternatives to the Common Core Standards? Web.

Corbett, J. (2014). The Answer to Common Core: Alternative Models of Education. Web.

Decker, G. (2015). Ahead of state’s Common Core review, Commissioner Elia looks outside New York. Chalkbeat New York. Web.

Ellenberg, J. (2015). Meet the new Common Core. The New York Times. Web.

New York State P-12 Common Core learning standards. (2015). Web.

Standards alignment. (2015). Web.

Strauss, V. (2013). The Common Core’s Fundamental Trouble. Web.

Strauss, V. (2014). Why support for Common Core is sinking. The Washington Post. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Common Core Standards vs. American College Testing." March 30, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Common Core Standards vs. American College Testing." March 30, 2021.


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