In light of the Republican and Democratic debates, education has become one of the most popular topics discussed in politics. One path towards a solution since the Bush’s No Child Left Behind act back in 2001 is the controversial, and somewhat unwelcome, Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The Common Core standards are designed to build upon the most advance current thinking. Their models and lessons transforms and reshapes educator’s lesson plans and teaching styles for subjects such as English, Language Arts, Writing, Science, Mathematics, and the like. Their objective is to create forward thinking and strategy in all students to better prepare them for success in college. This college-ready push has become an attractive point that has eventually become the hallmark theme for schools including elementary as well as secondary schools.
To date, 45 states have already shifted to the new Common Core State Standards for English and mathematics. These guidelines and quarterly curriculums are also complemented with a variety of standardized assessments. As sensible as this new educational initiative is, there has also been various backlashes from both teachers and parents.
So what are the benefits for the Common Core Standards?
First and foremost, the American public needs to recognize the lack of cohesiveness there was with education from state-to-state. Standards that were acceptable in one state could differ from those of another. By implementing the nation under one common standard, we will be able to get accurate data that reflects a holistic view of the American education. In addition, for families and students moving from one state to the other, the transition within a school’s curriculum will be a lot smoother since the standards are the same.
As for the curriculum itself, the standards differentiate from subject-to-subject, but highlight the concept of higher order thinking and strategy for each and every class. Take for example Language Arts. Rather than testing remedial and antiquated concepts that have been used for the past twenty years, Common Core forces educators to design appropriate lessons that test their critical thinking and analytical writing skills in their lessons. These particular concepts want to see how the students arrive at their answers by noting and citing textual evidence and outside resources for their answers. In addition, the standards ask for a stronger push for informational text with the classic fiction novels. This type of content converge can provide the students with a wide variety of text exposure and innovative analytical assignments. These disciplines are further internalized in order to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills for the child.
For mathematics, the standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction, and decimals. Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply innovative techniques for the more demanding conceptual mathematical problems. In addition, students are asked to holistically explain how they arrive to each answer through practical real-world issue problems.
As innovative and pioneering as these standards are, they do have some negatives that have pressed teachers, parents, and professionals alike to question the overall methods of the initiative. Firstly, teachers and educational administrators believe that the curriculum inflexibility could jeopardize their careers if the students perform low on the national Common Core assessment. Parents have also spoken out about CCSS that the curriculum is too exam heavy with phrases like “teaching for the test.” In addition, parents have also questioned the tactics their children are learning when arriving at an answer. They ask, “is it better to find the right answer in the most effective way possible or explaining an answer.”
While the problems are still currently being addressed, we can wholeheartedly agree that CCSS is no substitute for effective teaching. However, they have provided a new model in the step for finding strong efficient educators in the field.