A (slightly tangential) critique of a CCSS infographic

We here at Lerner do love a good infographic. We are also diligent about keeping up with standards, particularly Common Core. And of course, we like to encourage critical thinking skills, in students as well as adults. So I thought I’d share this infographic from Best College Reviews. (Original is here.)


At first glance, this infographic appears to offer a useful critique of the Common Core State Standards. But upon further scrutiny, is it accurate? And can we rely on it? 

Here’s an overview of some of the first questions I had when reading this infographic.

1. Who created it? Can I trust these people? What is their motivation? Well, the website is called Best College Reviews, but I can’t find an “about” page or any author names, other than one “Susan,” no last name given. Hmm, that’s suspicious. Why don’t they want me to know who they are?

2. Well, the infographic looks nice and doesn’t seem to contain grammatical or syntax errors. That’s a plus. How did they do on listing sources? Oh, good. They included a list of sources at the bottom of the infographic. But wait, without even going to each source, two of seven are in the opinion section and one is a blog. So at least three of seven sources are personal opinions, not statistics-based. Is it reasonable to argue that a new standards system is worse than an old one when almost half your sources are opinions and not fact-based studies?

3. Now I am suspicious. I will reread the text to see if anything there seems biased or confusing. And it does. The headers suggest that we’re analyzing CCSS in terms of college readiness. But then the first section talks about how many kids in different states are failing algebra (two states) and their high school exit exams (two different states). These stats may be true (I didn’t check), but there’s no mention of what these numbers were before the implementation of CCSS. Are the failures increasing dramatically? Was everyone in these states doing awesome in math before this drop? Did anything else change in the curriculum that might have affected these numbers?

There are more things in this infographic that could be questioned, but I think you get the idea. Infographics can be an excellent way to learn information, but we must remember to question what we read, even if it is packaged well. And when we create our own infographics, we must be sure our evidence backs up our argument, just as we would with a report or an essay. Aside from the questions I discussed above, I think the biggest problem with this particular infographic is that it tries to do too much. I think its main argument is that the CCSS aren’t an improvement over previous standards. But this main point is far too broad to be covered in one infographic, which means it roams all over the place with its “evidence.”

So! Do you want to look at even more infographics? Are you ready to teach your students what infographics are and how students can analyze them? Well, we have a great new series that can help. The Super Science Infographics series is packed full of infographics. This series includes FREE downloadable eSource materials to use in the classroom, including a teaching guide, a list of useful websites, and a how-to activity for your students.

Each season, our editorial staff puts our heads together to come up with great extras to help you get more out of our new series and titles. To download free resources for a book or series, find it on our website. If you haven’t registered with us, please do so at the upper right corner of the page. It will only take a minute. On future visits, you’ll need to sign in to download files. Then look in the right-hand column of the page for the eSource logo. Just under the Font Lens, you’ll see the downloadable eSource files. Click on an individual file or on “download all.”