The Common Core Standards seem to be a hot button issue for which there is no middle ground. You are either for them or against them. Reliable and esteemed reports have declared they will do nothing to better student achievement. It seems to me the basic idea is to increase the rigor and depth, and as a result, educational effectiveness and results will improve.
Much of the criticism or praise of this “movement” seems to be based in politics. The consequences of this entanglement means no action. Somewhere in my mind I find this as a cop-out for change, for action, for making things different, and getting things done.
Everyone knows that a framework for instruction is not going to improve instruction. Only actual instruction can change achievement. It is about the living, breathing people who bring education to children.
The idea of The Common Core is to bring a like framework to all schools and all children so that they are on the same page should they go to college or some career readiness program. If you graduate from high school where ever it is in the United States, we know what you are supposed to know and be able to do. How can this be a bad thing? Oh, right, I am infringing on state’s rights. So let’s keep doing it in some haphazard way because it is working so well.
One further thought, Assessment. Yes, assessment is not going to ever be a thing of the past. Accountability is here to stay, and yes, you will hear me say THIS IS A GOOD THING. I know that I am pro-innovation, ingenuity and arts integrated education. If you do any of that in a vague way without standards and accountability, it is simply not serious in my mind. We need to care enough about the education of our children to be certain that they got what we are talking about. If you are worried about stifling their creativity or damaging their self-esteem, I suggest you get over it.
The standardized testing needs review and development. It can be better – multiple choice tests are ridiculous in many ways. Teaching to the test is a huge criticism–so what do you suggest to be taught? Should we test on things that are not taught? The issue is teachers spitting out information and students regurgitating it. That is wrong and has to change. Accountability in some manner must be there. Writing must be taken seriously and students must learn to use history and experience to validate their claims. They should not just write some ridiculous account that answers some crazy prompt. The arts serve a great purpose here in experiential education through knowledge of the past and how things have evolved to be as they are today. Compare and Contrast. Learn to find and evaluate the validity of information, not just make it up. Students must be responsible for their own learning. Assessments must show that not only do they know what the content is, but also that they know where to find it and how to use it.
An excerpt from Marzano Research Lab about the Common Core Standards:
These standards demand very high levels of performance from all students, which in turn has significant implications for teaching. Differentiated instruction, integrated instruction, learning by design, and other strategies will need to become commonplace in all classrooms. There is no excuse for at-risk populations failing to achieve along with the rest of the students in school.
What is important is instruction, implementation and how the subject matter is assessed. The Common Core or any other standards are just a framework. The meat is in the doing of that, which is where all of the haphazardness lies. Frameworks are good, but they are not living and active. Learning is. How could a framework improve achievement if there is no improvement in the action (teaching)?
I am tired of people criticizing the Common Core. Establishing a common framework is meant to help in limiting local costs by not having so many different people duplicating work. One set of standards, one set of assessments, and yes, they should NOT be multiple choice. The standards should be implemented with thought, depth and rigor. Create life long learners and develop critical thinking skills. Students need to learn how to learn and where to find information. Teachers can be the guide. The key here is the learning will happen from the implementation, not the framework.