Common Core Curriculum

Updated on October 27, 2013
A.H. asks from Louisville, KY
10 answers

I keep hearing about common core becoming common practice in the schools, (becoming) nationwide now. Pros/cons?

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answers from Boston on

This link contains helpful information specific to your state. My understanding of Common Core's adoption here, based on what I hear from our school district, is that Massachusetts adopted Common Core to benefit from the federal money available but won't be "dumbing down" the curriculum that already exceeds Common Core standards. Basically, a state has to meet or exceed common core standards. Our ELA standards are already higher than CC, our Math standards needed some improvement so changes are being made.

Based on this report card, it looks like Common Core will be welcomed and is very much needed in your state because the current curriculum standards are unclear and do not have enough rigorous content. The report describes Kentucky's ELA standards as among the worst in the country and states that they are missing 50% of essential ELA content.

I like the idea of Common Core. I think implementing it will be an iterative process and that improvements will come with time. It really isn't fair that kids in my state who go to public school get a far better education than kids in other states (including yours) do. And that's not just my opinion - Massachusetts students score among the top in the country by just about any measure and we are often among the few states where student test scores compete on a global level. I think it's important to make sure that any student, anywhere in this country, has access to education that is at least adequate if not exceptional. Unfortunately, the standards set by many states are inadequate and not fair to the students. Common Core hopes to rectify that.

ETA: after seeing some responses, people seem to not understand what Common Core is. Common Core is a set of standards that states can choose to adopt. In adopting the standards, there is no dictation of *how* the standards will be taught per se. No is saying "abandon all of your textbooks and curricula and use these worksheets instead." Of course as states adopt Common Core, it's up to each school district to ensure that its curricula are designed to help students meet these standards. So that's where curriculum changes may need to happen. Our state passed an education reform act in 1994 that resulted in our standards being written in 2001 and being amended in 2004. These standards are assessed by standardized tests (MCAS). People are still up in arms about some of this 20 year later, but it works. Yes the standards have caused districts to evaluate what they teach and when. For example, MCAS includes technology in 8th grade and physical science in 9th, so school districts now teach technology in 8th grade and basic physics in 9th, vs. teaching physics only to advanced 12th graders.

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answers from Washington DC on

To clarify, Gamma G, that teaching to the test thing has nothing to do with the common core. The tests for the Common Core State Standards aren't even out yet. They're being piloted THIS year and won't become the "high stakes" tests until the 2014-2015 school year.

Whatever was happening with your granddaughter was about your state's current, pre-Common Core standards.

That being said: As a parent and a teacher, I am a huge fan of the Common Core State Standards as compared to the individual state standards that have been around for the last decade or so. The CCSS emphasize deep, conceptual understanding and application rather than rote memorization. They include standards of content and practice (ie in second grade students must fluently add and subtract within 100 ... which includes "memorizing" the addition and subtraction facts... but they also must understand a variety of models of addition and subtraction (counting up and back, comparison, part-whole relationships, composing and decomposing numbers, place value relationships etc) so that they can apply those skills in a variety of contexts to "make sense of problems and persevere in solving them" and "construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others."

Also, to respond specifically to the experiences of students not knowing multiplication facts or spelling etc... the CCSS are actually designed to EMPHASISE mastery of multiplication in the third grade. Rather than going a mile wide and an inch deep every year, and repeating similar content in every grade, the content is much more sequenced, so that students see fewer pieces of content in a school year, but learn them to mastery. If that 3rd grade teacher was teaching to the CCSS, pp's granddaughter would have spent MONTHS developing understanding of and fluency with multiplication!

Okay, hopping off this particular soapbox. :)

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answers from Kansas City on

J B., thank you for your concise explanation. As a teacher, it has been difficult to explain this to parents because most are so resistant to change and refuse to even TRY to understand what is being implemented.

CCSS, simply stated, is an effort to level the playing field. It is an effort to increase rigor in the curriculum content and expect our teachers to teach and our schools to meet certain standards of education. As J B. said, it is NOT an abandonment and exchange, it is a set of standards to be met.

"Teaching to the test" has become an easy statement. No, this is not a new method of teaching the test. Further more, we need standardized testing to measure where we are. Sad, but true- the kids need to take a test. It always amazes me that parents complain so much about standardized testing, but it's usually the first question asked when looking at schools- how are the test scores? How will we know if we don't give some sort of test??

It also is most certainly not 'new math' either. We now expect students to not only learn problem solving techniques in order to obtain an answer, we expect them to explain HOW they know the answer. We expect them to read and comprehend with a higher level of thinking.

Many people complain about how the US is failing in education and falling behind in the world. By increasing our standards and EXPECTING teachers to teach and children to learn, we will begin taking steps necessary to compete globally.

Is CCSS the answer to all of our educational woes in the country? Most likely not. But at least it is an attempt to make a difference. If we don't try, how will we know?

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answers from Dallas on

With all do respect to the poster below, common core does exactly this: "Cram tons of info down kids' throats before they are ready and then have them retain little?"

Common core is not an answer to our education woes. It still teaches memorization and categorizing, and not learning. It still teaches the test, quiz, worksheet, etc. It's a really inadequate fix, to an inadequate educational system.

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answers from Anchorage on

Common core is horrible, as is the new "go math". They may sound great on paper but when you put them into practice and actually have to sit with your kids to do this homework it is silly, and often creates more work then is needed to learn or complete the assignment. I just did parent teacher conferences last week and our teachers seem to agree they don't care for it, but unfortunately it is becoming the standard. In the end it takes away from actual creative learning and the teachers now just teach to the tests.

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answers from Wausau on

People tend to react poorly to change, regardless of pros and cons. A lot of parents don't actually understand what Common Core means, so I see a lot of angst over misconceptions. Take what you read online from random people with a grain of salt.

I don't have a strong opinion either way at this time. I've seen both very good things, and a few things that make me pause, but the mental jury is still out.

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answers from Detroit on

Go to google and search for the common core standards so you can see what they are..

Overall I think they are a step in the right direction. The standards have items that every kid in each grade should be taught. No matter whether they are in a rich or poor district in California or Conniecticut..

the standards are tough and there is a lot that needs to be covered. our district switched math curriculums to better align with the common core and our first and second graders are learning to add this year.. which is great...

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answers from Detroit on

Honestly, I don't find it to be all that different. In Michigan we already had standards, this just shifts them a bit. I feel like some of the goals were shifted to mare appropriate grades than they were at before.

I am not sure why so many people are upset. Didn't every state already have standards? As far as all the "The teacher is only teaching to the test", "They are only worried about their kids passing" , well yeah! If I am doing my job and teaching my students the goals/standards for their grade then I guess I am technically "teaching to the test", but only because the test is being aligned to the standards I am supposed to be teaching! I mean, if My 4th graders need to know how to use a data table to find landmark data, such as mean, median and mode, according to the Common Core Standards and I teach them this I also expect that is will show up on the test for 4th grade. It just makes sense, right? Just like ANYTHING I teach! I have a goal, I design a test to to assess whether my students have reached these goals, then I work with them so they can be successful. What's wrong with that? Isn't that what we are supposed to do? Make sure the kids are meeting the standards for their grade so they are prepared for the following grade?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I know last year when my granddaughter was in 3rd grade she went in with her test scores being in the mid to high 90's. Her reading was in the 97%.Her other scores were in the 90% too.

In 3rd grade her teacher basically told us, at the beginning of the school year parents meeting, that it was her job to get the kids to pass the standard testing and if they didn't she was out of a job. She only worked with them to pass that test.

My granddaughters test scores went from those 90+%, well, some of them went to the 30% area. That's totally stupid right! She didn't learn anything in 3rd grade. We put her in a different school in 4t grade and she's so far behind in her skills she's having to work one on one with her teacher 3 days per week after school. Or she's going to flunk 4th grade. She doesn't even know her multiplication tables. She didn't even have spelling tests regularly last year.

It's so hard on her to be so far behind too. She's changed so much from the stress of last year. By the end of the year we realized she was cutting herself. So that's why we moved her.

The school she was going to last year is the #2 school in our district too. I can't imagine what's going to happen to kids who don't fit into this cookie cutter style of teaching.

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answers from Denver on

Every state has always taught to a "set of standards". Common Core nationalizes these standards, rather than having each state dictate their own. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but there are problems with it, as with any curriculum.

The bigger problem I see is not the standards themselves (as there will always be some set of standards, and I don't really care what they are called...) but the standards-based reporting that is quickly sweeping through schools. It is AWFUL. Gone (or going) are the days a A,B,C,D,F, and percentage grades. Now we are seeing "meets the standards", or "does not meet the standards" as the way to grade kids. Basically, pass/fail. I cannot imagine a bigger contributor to the dumbing down of a generation than to take away their drive to achieve, be better, work harder, etc. The "meets" is the new A,B, and C. So, you won't really know if your kid barely meets the standards or is completely meeting them, because all you see is an "M" on the report card.

We are fighting this HARD at my kids' elementary school right now, and trying to get it changed back. They plan on doing the new reporting through 5th grade and then switching all the kids back to percentage grades in 6th. Really? Its going to be a huge slap in the face to the kids who were getting Ms, and then find out in 6th grade that they are really a C student.

I think the standards and the new reporting are going to make a mess of things. The standards are lending themselves to a new teaching philosophy of "teach until its taught". Again, sounds great in theory. But, what this means is that a child can take an assessment (the new name for a test) over and over again until they "meet the standard, and master the core standard being assessed." What other area in life allows someone to just keep trying until you get it right? Your college professor certainly isn't going to grade you like that, and your employer isn't going to put up with it! Not every child is an A student, and that's okay. Now, they are riding on the mentality of "everyone gets a trophy". And that isn't okay. It doesn't jive in my house, and it doesn't jive in real life.

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