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The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965) signed by President Lyndon Johnson was revised seven times, most recently by President George Bush when he approved No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002). The effect on student performance of NCLB was near zero, so the Obama administration created a new program, Race to the Top, excusing states from fulfilling the goals of NCLB if they agreed to adopt Common Core: assumed educational standards or instructional goals in English and mathematics for all students in all grades. Nevertheless, it is asserted that Common Core is not a national curriculum (Common Core State Standards, 2014a).

StairsTo date, 43 states, including California, have adopted Common Core for use in public schools. It is just as likely, however, that its effect will the same as previously adopted educational programs supported by the federal government to increase student achievement: zero effect.

Despite the spending of billions of dollars by the federal and state governments, reading and math scores of students aged 9, 13, and 17 years on measures such as the National Assessment of Education Progress (2013) have remained almost unchanged for more than 40 years. This figure shows reading scores (1971-2012)—although math scores during the same period are almost a mirror image:

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