I have thought about the Common Core standards, and have decided to not support them.
I have long advocated for national standards offered voluntarily, believing that it to be helpful to states and districts to have general principles about what students should and be able to accomplish as they advance through school.
I believe standards as such should be tested in real classrooms; and the standards should not tell teachers how to teach because there are a plethora of ways to be a good teacher. Standards should serve as a pledge to the world that schools will provide the resources and chance to learn mathematics, sciences, literature, and history taught by competent educators.
Not realizing until the eighth grade, I found myself hopping from state tests all of the time. The continuous testing brought me to a point in life where I was not learning, I was copying. Two weeks before testing, my teacher would write notes on content we have not covered and in hopes of not failing, I copied everything written on the board until the day before testing.
Here I am after a couple of years and wanted to know, based on evidence, whether or not my education was enhanced or did I become another student who does not learn anymore. Do I only aim to pass the next thing the federal government will throw my way.
In 46 states and the District of Columbia, the Common Core Standards has been embraced without a field test. Being imposed on the children of the nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of lab rats.
Would the Federal Drug Administration approve the use of a drug without a trial? We as people would like to think not, so why not take the same approach when it comes to education? Maybe the standards will be great or a disaster. Maybe they will widen the achievement gaps between acumen and the ignorant, causing students who currently struggle to give up.
President Obama and Secretary Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true.
The Common Core Standards were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association.There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core Standards.
The flap over fiction versus informational text further undermined my confidence in the standards. There is no reason for national standards to tell teachers what percentage of their time should be devoted to literature or information. Honestly, literature and information can develop the ability to think critically.
Another reason I cannot support the Common Core standards is that I am worried they will cause a precipitous decline in test scores, and this will have a disparate impact on students who are English language learners, have disabilities, or are poor and low-performing.
When Kentucky piloted the Common Core, proficiency rates dropped 30 percent. What is the purpose of raising the bar so high that many more students fail?
Creator of the Common Core standards, David Coleman has become president of the College Board, so is it safe to say we can expect the SAT will be coordinated to the standards?
Below is an interview with Literature teacher, Erin King who has agreed to voice a few of her opinions on the Common Core Standards.
In your opinion why are the common core standards important as a school? As an individual student?
I was fortunate to obtain my Masters in Teaching a couple of years before Georgia started transitioning from the Georgia Performance Standards to Common Core Standards. I didn’t form any opinions between the two, but I can remember hearing veteran teachers expressing fear about the new Common Core. We always see concern or fear when something new is being introduced. Since I was in the middle of studying, I could see the value in both standards without any true bias. I can say that the Common Core Standards are clearer with expectations for English and Language Arts.
Standards are important nationally to try to maintain consistency in what students learn from state-to-state. Ideally, we don’t want 10th graders in Georgia not learning how to analyze an author’s developed ideas, while 10th graders in Kentucky are learning this language arts skill. This is important to the individual student (especially if they are aspiring to go to college) because they would want to meet the standards and expectations to advance.
Have you seen a significant difference in literacy rates with the new standards? If not, what have you noticed the standards impacted?
I don’t know if enough time has passed to determine significant differences.
Does Common Core support global competence?
That is a great question. I think that our academic environment should be focusing more globally. This seems to happen naturally as the new generations of students become more connected via technology, news and events. Most teachers seem to have a good sense of this and try to incorporate worldly texts. The Common Core does encourage more reading in non-fiction. I have seen an increase in reading because students have more opportunities to choose topics that they find interesting.
It is said that teachers are involved in the creation of the common core standards, exactly how do you all contribute to their creation?
I can tell you that there were some revisions recently made to the Common Core for the state of Georgia. The standards were reviewed through a formed committee using an evaluation process that involves all the key players of education (including teachers). I believe the public has a certain amount of days to voice comments or concerns during this process as well.
How does the common core standards compare to previous state education standards?
I can’t speak for the standards in other subjects. The Common Core Standards seem to be easier to understand for ELA. The language is clear and leaves room for the teachers to scaffold as needed. There are lists of standards for each subject and grade. This allows teachers, students and parents to see the learning goals and determine the growth as they advance. For instance:
ELACC11-12RL4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
ELACC11-12RI4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Notice that the ELACC11-12RL4, primarily for 11th graders, focuses on the diction or word choice used in a text. Thus, a 12th grader should transition from analyzing the impact of the words used throughout a text to analyzing the meaning of the key terms to the work as a whole.
If you had to vote on whether or not to keep the common core standards, what would your decision be?
I am comfortable with using the Common Core Standards for ELA. I don’t think they are that different from the Georgia Performance Standards. I do believe that we shouldn’t remain stagnant when it comes to standards. They should be ever changing.
To what purpose do you think the common core standards could be ceased? If you believe the possibility, can you see that happening soon?
This is a hot political debate. I think that parents, students, teachers and administrators need to be familiar with any standard that is implemented into their state. As long as there is competition in this world, there will be standards to measure competency. The question is do we want standards to be common across the nation.
I am not sure why there is a strong push to cease the Common Core Standards. They are not perfect, but they aren’t that different from the previous state standards. The problem is in standardized testing. I have done a little bit of research into the Common Core’s connection to state standardized tests. What I can tell is that the Common Core does not mandate these tests; however, there is a concern over quantifying the growth in their standards. In other words, the community might want proof that the learning goals were met. I believe that we need to measure individual growth, but more importantly, we need to limit standardized testing. If we can find a balance, I think we would see happier teachers, students and parents.
For the sake of other’s future I hope the Common Core standards are becoming near flawless. I wish we knew more about how they will affect our most vulnerable students.
But since I do not know the answer to any of the questions that trouble me, I cannot support the Common Core standards. While I cannot support the Common Core standards, I will continue to watch and listen.