By now you have probably heard about the Common Core State Standards learning model. If you have somehow been living in educator darkness, it is a means to standardize language arts and mathematics lessons across the country so that students will have expected learning goals for each grade level – from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The new standard creates benchmarks within the learning process to assure each student is “career or college ready.” The standards are said to be comparable to other schools on an international level.
Math standards in the Common Core require teachers to focus more on covering concepts more deeply, rather than racing to cover a broad spectrum of topics. The idea is to provide students with a stronger foundation and better understanding of the topics that are being covered. The concept is designed to progressively teach students so that each year they are able to build upon the previous grade’s lessons.
New Common Core English standards focus more on vocabulary and a better understanding of the English language. There is no required reading list, yet it does focus reading assignments more towards non-fiction writing. Reading may even be focused around more academic and scientific writing as a means to prepare students for college level reading. The standards also focus more on evidence-based writing, leaning students towards more informative and argumentative writing styles.
The learning style has been met with a lot of controversy. Some educators and parents support the idea, noting that the program is designed to bring all students to a higher level, while others shun the idea based on its focus on assessments and lack of local control over curriculum.
Whether you are for or against the Common Core learning model, most public schools nationwide have adopted the style. While the federal government was not involved in the creation process, they have encouraged each state to adopt the new learning standards. In fact, 45 states and the District of Columbia have all accepted the new learning style, leaving only Texas, Nebraska, Alaska, and Virginia who have not complied and Minnesota who has only accepted the English standards.
The fact is, most of us have to embrace the new standards. It has required a lot of extra planning on the educator’s part, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be creative with our lessons. Contrary to some belief that the Common Core mandates exactly what a teacher teaches, teachers are able to teach lessons as they would work best for their students.
The new style of educating will use assessments to assure children are on pace with the expected curriculum established within the Common Core standards. Some students may require more instruction in subjects than others, so it is important to ensure all children grasp the material. In-classroom software like Edulastic allows teachers to monitor students’ progress while opening communication with the students. This will help ensure that teaching methods are effective and allow educators to provide extra assistance to those in need.
Common Core State Standards is still a work in progress. Most schools have yet to have implemented the new standards long enough to even provide results to prove or disprove the effectiveness of the standards. Over the next few years, as schools fully roll out the program and testing can facilitate results, it’s unsure how the program will fare. However, as educators it is our responsibility to make sure we play a role in positively shaping the future of our students.