Common Core Standards: The Basics
The new Common Core Standards are were first developed in 2009. The Common Core is not a curriculum, but a guide for what students should learn in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) before they graduate from each grade. They are guidelines as to what a student has to know by the completion of each grade from kindergarten to the end of grade 12. Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards and are working toward implementing them in schools. Individual educators and communities come up with their curriculum, which is what students are taught day to day.
Like many initiatives in education, the Common Core Standards are controversial. Here are some of the basics about what the standards are, and where some of the disagreements crop up.
Who is responsible for the system standards?
This project is sponsored by two groups:
- The National Governors Association (NGA)
- The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
A website implemented and maintained by the Common Core State Standards Initiative or CCSS provides updated information and data concerning the initiative.
What are the goals of Common Core Standards?
The goals of the Common Core Standards are twofold. As noted above, they were created to provide specific guidelines as to what each student should accomplish by the end of their school year. The long term goal is that with the help of the Common Core, students will have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life, whether in college or their career. The Common Core is also intended to grant a consistency across state lines therefore providing all American states with a standard that is equitable no matter where they live or go to school.
What is stressed by the CCSS is that the standards are not and never have been a curriculum. Nor is this method meant to control how and the topics are specifically taught. This are left up to each state and teacher. There remains some doubt about this, however, explaining why some states have not signed on to this initiative.
How were the Common Core Standards created?
Like their older counterpart, the new or 2013 version is said to have been derived as a result of:
- Consultation and collaboration with various educators in the field
- Current understanding of the present strengths, content and application of the present curriculum
- In align with the best approaches and methods of other countries
As a result, the founders and some studies perceive them to be:
- Easy to understand
- Directed towards improving practical application skills
- Aligned with the student educational expectations and results of college, university and/or career
However, detractors find this new system to be anything but helpful. They find it detrimental seeing it as being not developmentally appropriate for young children (Brady, 2014). Furthermore, educational professionals and scholars such as Marion Brady (2014; 2013) find it to not encourage any other form of learning.
Problems with Common Core
The new Common Core Standards have raised a few eyebrows because of a specific and different quality. These Standards require teachers to employ cross-disciplinary teaching. The foundations of Common Core – math and ELA are to be melded together. Teachers are also to incorporate these two key subjects in all aspects of teaching. In art, music and even gym, math and English must have a strong presence.
The founders will argue that these are Common Core Standards the next step in what they call a “living document.” Educators might disagree and state that any implementation of Core Standards is done because of the perceived need for students to survive the onslaught of tests they face annually. Some detractors argue that they only support the industry that sells books and technology and do nothing to help children reach their full potential. Some also perceive the entire process as an attempt by the government to take control of the education system.
Another argument against the New Common Core is what is perceived as impossibly high scores. The bar set for students has resulted in increased failure and has managed only to create a ranking rather than an analysis to help students improve. This has led parents to protest in New York and elsewhere without success. It has also resulted in supporters questioning the process.
The new Common Core Standards has attracted polar observations and critics. While some who are against it see it as an attempt for the Federal Government to gain control of the education system, others see it as a positive way to create a unified educational standardized system to help American students in all states to achieve the same educational goals.