I posted this discussion in the History Explorers group for social studies educators, but wanted to connect this to Community members with a specific interest in the Common Core:
Just as the Common Core State Standards have been adopted in states across the country, there has been increasing opposition to them and debate about their implementation. As the Washington Post has reported, some states are questioning the standards while some politicians, including Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, have spoken out against the Common Core. Arguments against them include that they are an inappropriate use of federal power, that they have been poorly implemented or that implementation has been rushed without sufficient training, and that students are unequipped to meet the challenges of the associated tests (as a follow up, this article from Education Week offers more on the tests and the suggested role of teachers’ unions). Of course, for many, the Common Core represents an opportunity to truly transform teaching and learning to develop essential skills for lifelong learning. This piece from Edutopia explains well the potential of the Common Core but also the dangers of treating them as another set of standards to map and test to.
So, what’s your take—are you a Common Core advocate or skeptic? What do you think is at the heart of the debate here? Are improvements to the standards and their implementation necessary, and if so what can be done?
I am more familiar with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) which we have been required to follow in our school curriculum long before the Common Core Standards were written. Ironically, Virginia is still one of the few states that has not adopted the Common Core. However, those standards are very similar to our SOLs.
As a teacher, I found many students were satisfied with a passing score on the SOL tests. They were not motivated to achieve their full academic potential. I emphasized with students that mastery of the SOLs was basic (minimal) knowledge, and they needed to accomplish a higher level of learning. Also I was concerned that some teachers focused so much on passing the SOL tests, that they neglected a broader segment of the curriculum. I am an advocate of standards that help all students reach a level of mastery, but I don't think the standards should be viewed as the end-all in education.
I have read articles espousing the pros and cons of the Common Core Standards. I realize there are good arguments on both sides. I was interested in an article published in The Journal that said in states that have adopted the Common Core, their state agencies plan to implement the standards for 2013-14 despite growing opposition from within school districts as well as outside the education system. See "State Education Agencies See Little Threat from Challenges to Common Core," (July 29, 2013).
I'm curious if teachers think the Common Core Standards raise their students' achievement level and increase student motivation?