Education research topics: Standardized testing and Common Core standards

On September 17, 2015, Seattle students started school after a delay due to a teacher strike over pay increases and more teacher control of standardized testing. The battle over education reform is likely to be one of the key points discussed by candidates for president in 2016. Especially controversial are the Common Core standards.

Standardized testing makes for a good education research topic. (Credit:

Standardized testing makes for a good education research topic. (Credit:

By requiring that all students meet certain benchmarks these standards have resulted in an emphasis high stakes testing as a means of measuring school and teacher performance. Those who are planning on a career in education should consider covering education standards for their next research paper.

A brief history of education reform

In a September 23, 2014, article, “Timeline: Fueling the Push for Education Standards,” offered a look at education reform efforts dating back to the 1980s.

Key events in education reform included:

  • 1983: the release of the report “A Nation at Risk” warned that the U.S. is falling behind international competitors and recommends standards in English, math, science and social studies that were “rigorous and measurable.”
  • 1989: President George H.W. Bush called a meeting of the nation’s governors to set education goals.
  • 2002: President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act that calls for states to test students annually in reading and math in grades three to eight and once in high school.
  • 2009: Council of Chief State School Officers, a nonprofit group, created the Common Core Standards Initiative, which was eventually adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 2014: Some states begin to question the effectiveness of Common Core and Indiana became the first state to drop the standards.

Common Core standards

Common Core standards were created in order to do the following:

  • To give teachers, parents and students a set of clear expectations
  • To ensure that all students would have the knowledge and skills to be successful in college, career and life after high school regardless of where they lived

The aim was to achieve equity in preparing students. The standards are concerned with math and English language literacy only. Adoption of Common Core is at the discretion of each state.

After its implementation, some school districts began to get complaints from teachers and parents who found Common Core difficult to follow. Finding ways to iron out the problems may be complicated by the heated politicizing of the Common Core standards.

In a September 10, 2015, article for, “Conservatives Reject Common Core Standards, An Idea First Championed By Reagan and Bush Sr.” Casey Quinlan described the changing attitudes toward Common Core.

In his article, Quinlan cited David Whitman’s research for the Brookings Institute. According to Whitman, what began as whole-hearted support from conservatives transformed to distrust when Tea Party activists spread rumors about Common Core. The Tea Party effectively linked distrust of Common Core to their distrust of the Obama administration that supported it.

“The norm is that people don’t understand what Common Core state standards are. That’s usually problematic to having any kind of informed discussion as to what the standards do and more importantly what they are not,” Whitman said.

Education research paper help

You can find thousands of resources related to education topics at Questia.

Possible topics include:

One topic of concern to many teachers is high-stakes testing. Because schools are charged with ensuring that their students meet certain criteria on standardized tests they find themselves taking time away from education and even recess in order to teach to the tests.

The battle over high stakes testing was covered in the book, The New Accountability: High Schools and High Stakes Testing by Martin Carnoy, Richard Elmore, and Leslie Santee Siskin. According to the authors, the job of education has changed from educating to that of test preparation.

“Today’s assessment-based reforms are hardly new, but the purpose of assessment has been ‘transformed’ from traditional goals of measuring intelligence, tracking students, standardizing learning, and evaluating applicants into new forms of judging the quality and equality of schooling,” the authors said.

Read and learn about education research paper topics at Questia.

What is your opinion on standardized testing? Tell us in the comments.

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