Mercedes Schneider here compares two organizations that graded state standards: the American Institutes for Research and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. When AIR reviewed state standards and assessments, it concluded that the stands were so variable that common national standards and assessments were necessary, that is, the Common Core standards. She notes that AIR is very “scientific,” but recommends CCSS in the absence of any evidence. Fordham grades state standards without regard to their relationship to NAEP scores, and they conclude that what is needed most is Common Core standards.*

Fordham, as is well known, is funded by the Gates Foundation to advocate for CCSS.

AIR, though usually considered a research organization, has significant contracts to create CC assessments. AIR has a contract for $220 million to prepare assessments for Florida. It has a contract for $14 million as one of the developers of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. And more: “AIR has collected over $65 million from the Gates Foundation in the form of 23 grants since 2003.”

So, those who graded the state standards concluded that the Common Core was the very best thing even though there was no evidence for what they might accomplish, if anything.

*Note: I chaired the program committee at the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute until 2009, when I resigned from the board. The state standards’ ratings referred only to the academic content of state standards, without reference to the states’ performance on NAEP. I recall giving a speech in some state in the 1990s in which I criticized the academic insufficiency of their state standards. Someone in the audience got up and pointed out the state’s high scores on NAEP. I confess I was stumped. The point was that the quality of the state standards was unrelated to student performance. The lesson, I now realize (which I could not admit in those days), is that the Common Core standards is unlikely to have any effect on student achievement, as Tom Loveless pointed out in 2012.