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Will Common Core Requirements Keep Homeschoolers Out of College?

Will Common Core Requirements Keep Homeschoolers Out of College?

3 minutes

Virtually every home schooling parent who knows anything about the Common Core of State Standards (CCSS) opposes them. Nevertheless, many are concerned that not following a Common Core program might have a negative impact on their children’s ability to attend a selective four-year university.

Parents have heard – correctly — that both the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams will be aligned with the new standards. Will ignoring the Common Core and following a traditional course of study leave homeschooled students unprepared for entrance exams and to tackle college-level work?

After giving this question considerable thought, I am of the opinion that we home educators have little to worry about.

Don’t Cross Your Bridges Until You Come to Them.

The sixth chapter of St Matthew’s gospels tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow; let tomorrow worry about itself. Today has troubles of it’s own.” It’s great advice. We honestly don’t know what will happen with the Common Core.

Wherever it is introduced, parents, some teachers, and state legislators are responding with dismay and even outrage. Many public school parents are directing their children to refuse to sit for the assessments. In states that have already implemented the CCSS, proficiency scores have plummeted – by 30 to 40 points in Kentucky.

Only 30% of New York State students rank proficient in their assessments last spring.

Legislators in state after state are taking a look at the CCSS, which many had never heard of, and none had voted in. Although originally only four states (AL, NE, VA, and TX) declined the CCSS, opposition has risen in virtually every other state as citizens urge legislators to pull out.

Maybe the whole Common Core will implode before your children hit college age.

Cream Always Rises to the Top


Washington Post columnist, Valerie Strauss, recounts the story of a Florida school board member who sat for a 10th grade standardized test used in that state to determine whether a student is college material (here).

Although he is a highly accomplished businessman has two masters degrees and fifteen hours towards his doctorate, he correctly answered only 1/6 of the math questions and less than 2/3 of the verbal. This gentleman’s poor showing is indicative of what worries home schoolers.

Will test scores prevent otherwise qualified students from reaching their goals?

Curious, I followed a link and took a modified version of the same test, with seven verbal questions and another seven in math. Although I lack any college degree whatsoever and finished 10th grade in 1967, I scored 100% in verbal and missed just one math problem (because I forgot how to factor roots).

Some readers may think I am being a bit disingenuous because, although I have been out of high school for decades, I did more recently teach high school to six of my own children. True enough! Exclusively using Seton’s very excellent high school program apparently prepared me to ace this quiz.

Homeschoolers may need to purchase test prep books, but a top-notch education will prepare your children to excel on standardized tests—and in life.

Universities Need Top Students

It is no secret that students from other nations outperform their U.S. counterparts, especially in the so-called STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) disciplines.

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), known for its STEM excellence, is locally referred to as the University of IndoChina, for the large number of Asians in its student body. My son’s dorm at the University of Illinois — Champaign Urbana was nicknamed Tokyo Towers for the same reason.

These students hail from a variety of nations, all using different standards and curriculum, and learn in different languages, and yet they are eagerly sought after by high-profile departments, which need their skills as teacher and research assistants.

Universities will continue to demand the best and brightest, and the Common Core math standards will leave children as much as two years behind current achievement levels, according to people who are far smarter than I. (This is a good place to learn why: here. Follow the links at the bottom for more specifics.)

Homeschooled children, especially those taught with a demanding curriculum, will excel, and thus be attractive candidates for university programs.

Speaking of Foreign Students

One defense of the U.S. public school system goes something like this: American students may not be as well prepared in terms of rigor, but they are independent learners who can think outside the box. This explains why, although other nations may refine and improve our products, virtually every significant modern invention originated in the U.S.A.

American individualism has been the backbone of our technology and our economic system, but will be effectively destroyed by the Common Core, which demands a one-size-fits-all adherence to the same tested standards.

Home-educated students have already distinguished themselves, winning major awards in every field of study, and will continue to do so. Once again, their accomplishments will make them very attractive candidates for colleges and careers.

Stay the Course

We now have over thirty years of research and experience proving that home education is the best method for virtually every child. This success is most likely due to how we differentiate our home school from the public models. Public schools teach children to read using a whole word method; we use phonics.

They use constructivist math forcing children to develop their own problem-solving strategies; we teach them how to solve the problems by direct instruction. Public school children read fiction chosen to reinforce particular values such as ethnic diversity or feminism; we choose books that are proven classics of juvenile literature.

They allow creative spelling and grammar and believe that correcting compositions stifles imagination; we insist on learning and using rules of rhetoric. The list goes on and on.

Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps the strong academic preparation of home learning will allow students to ace college entrance exams with very little additional preparation. Possibly universities or corporations, anxious to identify competent candidates, will develop new, more reliable assessments.

The Common Core was implemented before being piloted or tested anywhere. We have no reason to believe the CCSS will improve academic performance, and many experts believe it will have disastrous effects on learning. On the other hand, we know that home education has proven itself to be the superior form of learning.

“Be not afraid,” must be our motto. We must trust that by providing our children with high quality homeschool experience, they will be ready for future college study and to assume their places as citizens of faith, integrity, and moral character.

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About Ginny Seuffert

Ginny Seuffert

Ginny Seuffert has been a leading writer and speaker about homeschooling and Catholic family life for more than two decades. She has given hundreds of talks at conferences and written three books. Meet Ginny | Ginny’s Books

  • djmpinky

    Ginny, I’ve never been particularly worried about the academic issues surrounding CC and homeschoolers but what about the national database tracking system tied to it? What is your opinion on how that will affect us?

    • Tina H.

      I’m not Ginny. But I do know that our kids cannot be tracked if they don’t take standardized tests. Thus, for kids who are in non-testing-required states, the only time they can be data-mined will be the ACT/SAT. While that is not good, at least it’s minimal. And the data-mining with those tests is not as severe as with the K-12 tests.

  • Beth

    I enjoyed reading your post. I am not a homeschooling parent. I am a teacher who must start using the common core. I have my opinions in this area. First of all, there are a lot of holes in some areas. Secondly, the Common Core is big business. States will be taking the same assessments provided by two different companies. They stand to make a lot of money. Rumor has it, give the Common Core 5 years and it will be abolished. ( I have heard this at several in-services and in some of my graduate school classes). I commend parents who homes school. As a teacher, I don’t think I could do the job. Keep up the good work.

    • Pam

      I was a classroom teacher during the days of Whole Language. OY. I am always amazed how education can swing so fast from one untested theory to the next, spend zillions of dollars on the next “magic bullet”. ACT/SAT are huge businesses that make their money fear mongering, again, nothing new in education.
      There is plenty of documented research that shows how kids learn, none of it ever makes it to the classroom. I homeschool, I have 3 high schoolers. I do not worry about the common core for myself. Like Ginny said, a well educated person is a well educated person. The day you are accepted to college and you get your financial aid is the last day in your life you need to worry about your SAT score again.

    • I find it sad that teachers keep getting beaten over the head about how and what to teach. I know quite a few (we differ politically) who are great teachers. I loved mine throughout school. LET the teachers teach. STOP micro-managing them. Give them some broad guidelines of what needs to be learned in a year, then let go. So much creativity is stifled by teaching to the test. I would rather my child learn 80% and master most concepts in a year, than learn ALL on the test and have zero comprehension. And wouldn’t a better use of all those publishing and testing dollars be spent on school supplies, paper, teacher PAY! No more bonuses for hard-nosed administrators who do very little to help teachers. I’ve seen it firsthand. Heavy handed rebukes when teachers accomplish great things! Keep teaching teachers! The good teachers of this nation are precious and appreciated.

  • Lisa Ann Homic

    Thank you for a well written post declaring we need not reinvent the wheel.

  • Teach as you teach. Children will learn. Every decade something new appears and it’s revolutionary. Basic ability to reason, critically deduce, debate, and invent hasn’t changed since the dawn of history. Homeschoolers will always excel in the open arena because they are taught to think for themselves and question. Common Core might as well be labeled Commie Core, to gain control over minds and keep them all in line like little obedient slaves. So glad I get to teach at a homeschool co-op. Those kids are SOooooo bright. And all will be ready for college.

  • Heather

    Possibly universities or corporations, anxious to identify competent candidates, will develop new, more reliable assessments.

    Yes! I believe college, esp Christian/Catholic colleges will need to rethink entrance exams!

  • Mel Kennedy

    My state swallowed CCSS hook line & sinker. Spoke to my child’s math teacher yesterday, and was floored. She stated the kids have NO textbooks or on line access to math books since none of them follow along w/what she is teaching. Told her that my concern is that there is no reference material to study for tests. First she offers to send me an extra copy of work sheets home if she can remember. Second she says that we go to YOUTUBE to watch KhanAcademy videos, and sort through them until we find ones that are my child’s grade level. Then she went on to tell me that she doesn’t teach the kids each step of any process it is up to the student to learn it on their own. The work is checked by the students grouped with three or four others, and does not count as grades. The teacher only sees and grades the tests scores. Hearing CCSS will probably implode within 5 years is good news, but that is most of my child’s public school academia years. How could the states not research this program before implementing it? Another generation of below average thinkers is not acceptable to me. This is extremely worrisome. Does anyone have advice for me? Thanks to all the parents that pay attention and are concerned about their child’s education.

    • CatholicGinny1

      The only advice I can give you is homeschool! Your children cannot lose their precious educational years waiting for the states to get themselves together

    • eba123

      The answer to your question about how the state could implement something without researching it is that if the government is the answer, it was a stupid question. If you cannot homeschool (and I completely understand if you cannot), the next best answer is to be sure your are working with your child as much as you can. Clearly, the teacher isn’t. That is not a condemnation of the teacher as much as it is an acknowledgment that the system doesn’t require it of her.

      The whole thing is appalling, but not surprising. Government has never done the best thing for any group of people, and perhaps especially not students in public schools.

    • Tracy

      Why are states taking this on without researching? That is simple. It all boils down to the almighty dollar. Not what is in the best interest of the children. As of now only six states have turned down Common Core ( TX, IN, MT, MN, VA and NE). School districts are money hungry due to students not making AYP in their schools so they have their hand out. Its up to the parents to educate themselves. I agree the only thing you can do right now is protest, join your states Against Common Core groups ( just google). And pull your child(ren) out and homeschool them. You can’t sit there and let people experiment on your children. Their education is short, and its way to important to let someone do that.

  • Dianne Myers

    Data Mining and the horrible dumbing down of American public school students is a modern tragedy. So many of these children are learning to accept the status quo and not question anything, particularly government. Not only is morality being left out of the public school, so to is the concept of questioning government, being that the government does such a good job at erasing poverty (please note the sarcasm).
    What the concept of entitlement education has done is make education appear to be worth less than what it was when you had to earn it. It has lowered the standards. We the taxpayer not only have to pay for kids who are straight A students to be educated, but those who do not value their education, whose families only send them to stay out of jail, have a built in babysitter , as well as those who can’t seem to earn a grade above a D-.
    Rather than common core data mining, I could come up with a way to vastly improve education in America, The only problem is our government is so content to tax the workers and give to those who won’t, that they have no problem taking our money to provide a free “education” to people who do not care about learning, thinking or excelling in this world.

  • Kim

    Thanks for the exhortation to be not afraid! After hearing your talk on this at the homeschool convention this summer, I have to admit I walked out being very afraid of this garbage. Well, not the garbage so much, but the people behind it.

  • Katherine

    I am confused as to why a home schooler parent would oppose common core? The content of it is great. I am a teacher and whether I choose to home school my child or send them to school, I will be teaching them the common core concepts and be using the common core methods.

    • CatholicGinny1

      After spending the best part of the last year studying the CCSS, I think the standards are incredibly inappropriate from a developmental standpoint. We could argue that, but the biggest problem with them is that they are totally untested. There is no evidence that they will are excellent and considerable evidence to the contrary.

    • Pam

      What makes common core so great exactly in your opinion? I was in the classroom, now I homeschool and am a private tutor. I find elementary school math taught in a disjointed, nonsensical way. I see spelling lists- not based on phonograms but on random words pulled from inane stories in readers that the kids hate. I am not completely opposed to National Standards of some sort and have always been a proponent of the Core Knowledge Curriculum. But this Common Core is simply corporate education making money for themselves, not educators caring about getting the most out of their students.

    • Leslie

      I am a teacher, and whether I choose to home school my children or send them to school, I will NOT be teaching them NOR send them to a school that uses common core. Pushing aside moral issues inserted in the curriculum, I have never had more requests for private tutoring than now because of the methods being taught in the classroom. Oh well, for the children who do not have that engineering mind. It’s like asking a child with dyslexia to just read the way others do because the government said so.

      Standardized testing, paperwork, and lack of time (due to the bureaucratic nonsense), are causing frustration for public school teachers and creating a non-welcoming and highly un-educational experience for children in the classroom. This turns into frustration for the children, followed by the parents, followed by a phone call to a private tutor because the government, excuse me, public school system is trying to create a school full of educational clones. Where, may I add, only a specific amount of those clones will succeed.

      Based on the amount of parents opposing the CC and its assessments in many states and how many children are being privately tutored after what should be a learning experience in the classroom, I agree with Beth above that CC will be abolished soon. I’m hoping it does not take five years for the politicians to realize the mistake that they have made. I am curious to find out how long it will take government to listen to the people they represent before making decisions for them.

  • Kris Weipert

    Ginny, its not the standards I’m concerned with, but the content of the tests based on how the questions (essays) are being changed. I’ve contacted our admissions director at Wyoming Catholic to propose even giving parents other testing options for college admissions. He said he’d talk to others at the upcoming admissions conference. It may become an option, at least for Catholic universities. Based on what I’ve seen with our oldest daughters at public school, the essay questions are leaning toward social issues. One parent saw this on a GED exam, “What would you do if a homosexual person moved in next door?” And some of the literature in Common Core with offensive content could slip into the SAT/ACT. I wouldn’t put it past them. So even if it may not affect homeschoolers directly, I think we have an obligation to fight CC and try to get it OUT to help other families who aren’t blessed enough to homeschool. Please encourage everyone to join the opposition in their respective states.

  • GirlWarrior

    I just have to say, “Wow, this is NOT Seton level testing.” I now see why so many universities are requiring students to take extra high school courses at community colleges before allowing the prospective student admission to the university. To clarify, I passed both the reading and the math with 7/7 and it was not even close to a challenge.

    I do not like giving opinions on topics such as this, however it seems to me that much time in public schools is wasted in projects or events rather than given to learning. I believe that learning includes children playing and experiencing life outside of classrooms too. It seems that the public school system is terribly inefficient.

  • Kristine

    My daughter, a 2010 Seton Home Study School grad, graduated
    in 2012 from Ohio State University (B.S., Animal Nutrition) without taking the
    ACT or SAT. While enrolled at SHHS she took classes at community college from
    9th-12th grade, with transfer to OSU in mind. Spring Quarter 2011 she
    transferred to OSU as a third-quarter junior, and was accepted to the Class of
    2016 OSU College of Veterinary Medicine the following autumn. (She’s in
    her second year of vet school.) While she took the GRE to get into vet
    school, she did not need the ACT or SAT or high school transcripts because she
    transferred to OSU with a minimum of 45 quarter (30 semester) hours from the
    community college and local four-year college. I advise parents/students
    to check out the transfer requirements for your colleges–it’s there for you to
    read. All Ohio community colleges accept students without ACT or SAT, and
    if the students transfer to a four-year college with enough credit hours and acceptable grades, the four-year colleges require no ACT, SAT, or high school transcripts.

    • Mary

      My daughter has done the same thing – she did not take the SAT or ACT – just began taking college courses at our community college – and she will transfer next year – without needing those test scores. She did have to take a ‘pretty easy’ entrance exam to be allowed to take English 1 and math courses.

      • Mary Irene

        I wish I knew these things when my kids were younger.

  • Ellenmhl

    I am a little confused about Common Core. I have heard a lot of negative things about it, but all of it vague. For example, in my state many are saying that the Common Core is dumbed down. But when I read the COmmon Core standards, and compare them to my states current standards, the Common Core has the kids learning the times tables at a younger age. Also, what is the problematic literature? What I saw on the Common Core website was that one of the recommended books was by G. K. Chesterton, and a lot of the non fiction suggestions were important historical addresses. Whereas the recommended reading list on my states current standards recommends , among other things, Portait of the Artist as a Young Man ( about a young man rebelling against that awful Catholicism). What am I missing about common core? I would like to be well informed on this issue and most articles in my local paper, both for and against common core, contain very little factual information. Thanks

  • Beth

    It’s unreal what they try to put these kids through. I can only sum it up by stating how behind usa is from other countries today verses years ago. The SOL Testing was the biggest mistake ever out together & continues to fail our children & learning is no longer fun nor interesting & teachers honestly are no longer enjoying teaching! We allow the failures to continue while these young minds drop out of schools & the future crumbles right in front of us. No child left behind, government funding, lottery for schools are all the biggest laughable Joke! More & more homeschool yet we don’t get any tax relief as well the more school becomes political – well to sum that up real quickly look how our country politically has fallen to total crap and debt they put us in & they are putting together to teach our children! Need I say anymore it’s past obvious & a first grader could explain. Children today past dislike school & we wonder why they are getting fat & not as smart, they no longer exercise. We had PE all the way through high school, that fell & students have become more lazy, tired, heavier & brains slower- so how as the adults are we helping our kids & the future? Not To Darn Well! I give it all a flat F-Failure to our children & what’s usa stand for anymore if we don’t even stand for the kids & our country’s future? One Word- disgrace

  • CatholicGinny1

    Retired teacher, thank you for reading the article. Phonemic awareness is taught in some public schools, whole language in others, but full phonics instruction seems somewhat rare. Standardized testing has been done for years. The problem today is that it is not being used to give a picture of student ability and achievement. Rather the tests dictate curriculum choices, and the CCSS force teachers to put test scores above true learning. Surely you know that a good teacher can identify student needs better than a test, and that same teacher can address those needs given adequate class time.

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  • Mary Irene

    Vocabulary is no longer the emphasis.
    With our country inching ever faster toward Socialism bent on achieving Communism–Common Core is expressly being used as a tool to level brighter students. Socialism demands of the common worker (the masses) to be “useful”.

    Hint: the NEW SAT is harder and for many Catholic High Schoolers, as well as Setonites I know came out of the Mar 2016 deflated.

    Seton has only 1 link (which doesn’t work!) for any kind of info for PSAT/SAT prep, college admission, (they don’t even mention!) and our sons feel like they may need to take off a year after high school simply because Seton’s program burned them out and they are sad to see that the public schoolers are better prepared for college.

    My kids are bright and I am saddened because they are living during this horrific change which is going on in our nation.

    Has anyone noticed that fast food places and restaurants in general give you better/faster/more courteous service?

    It’s because brighter (college educated!) people are working there….I wonder how many years it will take to pay off their college loans….

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