Common Core in Schools

The Common Core Initiative has been in the media a lot recently and not always for the right reasons. Many states have begun rolling out the curriculum but more and more reports are being published highlighting the messy process and slow progress. Teachers unions have called the roll out sloppy while others have raised their concerns over the fundamental need for the Initiative. If you haven’t been following, Common Core is basically a set of national guidelines for what a student in any state in the U.S. should learn by the time they graduate high school. The program hopes to maintain a standard of what students are expected to learn at each grade level so that our education system can have less variability between schools.  There have been lots of complaints about how the teachers aren’t being trained fast enough to teach the Common Core standard and how the teachers are being unfairly judged based on their students’ performance on the standardized test.  Still, states are moving forward to push the Common Core into their schools amid the resistance.

Avid supporter Bill Gates recently wrote an article dispelling some myths.

Myth: Common Core was created without involving parents, teachers or state and local governments.

In fact, the standards were sponsored by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The major teacher unions and 48 states sent teams, including teachers, to participate. The Gates Foundation helped fund this process because we believe that stronger standards will help more students live up to their potential. More than 10,000 members of the general public commented on the standards during drafting. Each of the 45 states that have adopted them used the same process used to adopt previous standards.

Myth: Common Core State Standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests.

Common Core won’t necessarily add to the number of annual state tests students take. States will introduce new math and language arts tests based on the standards to replace tests they give now. Most states are taking a cautious

approach to implementing the new tests, giving teachers and students time to adapt before scores lead to serious consequences. What’s more, unlike some of today’s tests, the new tests will help teachers and students improve by providing an ongoing diagnosis of whether students are mastering what they need to know for success after graduation.

Myth: Common Core standards will limit teachers’ creativity and flexibility.

These are standards, just like the ones schools have always had; they are not a curriculum. They are a blueprint of what students need to know, but they have nothing to say about how teachers teach that information. It’s still up to local educators to select the curriculum.

In fact, the standards will give teachers more choices. When every state had its own standards, innovators making new educational software or cutting-edge lesson plans had to make many versions to reach all students. Now, consistent standards will allow more competition and innovation to help teachers do their best work.

Americans want students to get the best education possible. We want schools to prepare children to become good citizens and members of a prosperous American economy. The Common Core standards were carefully conceived with these two goals in mind. It would be a shame if myths and misunderstandings got in the way.

Bill Gates isn’t just talking though, he recently gave $150 million to help fund the development of the Common Core. You can find the full list of recipients of the funding here.

What do you think of this whole Common Core mess? Are teachers being overly resistant? Could this mess have been avoided? Let me know in the comments!

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