I really don’t understand what all of the fuss is when it comes to Common Core. We all want what is best for our children. Common Core is the best we have in terms of educating our children and preparing them for higher education and/or a job that pays a living wage.
A high school diploma needs to mean something. It should represent the mastery of some standard, basic education. Currently, it means very little. Students can graduate from high school in Mississippi and have more or less knowledge and skill than students who graduate from high school in Florida. Yet these students are expected to compete in a global market for jobs. Students from different states attend college together and they present themselves with very different skill sets. Few of them are prepared for the rigor of a quality university education. For decades, we have produced graduating classes full of students who cannot read or write. A mere 25% of our students graduate from high school ready for a college education in the 4 core subjects of science, reading, math, and English. http://www.broadeducation.org/about/crisis_stats.html
Students in this great nation of ours currently rank 17th in science, 14th in reading, and 25th in math, when compared to 27 other industrialized nations. http://www.broadeducation.org/about/crisis_stats.html The purpose of Common Core is to make us competitive again. The standards are hard, really hard, actually. To me, that is encouraging. I want my children to be challenged in the classroom. I don’t expect my daughter to walk out of her classroom at the end of the school year knowing how to be kind, courageous, and compassionate. Nor do I expect the teacher to have time to teach my daughter impulse control, resiliency, and perseverance. It is my job to instill these traits in my child. And, while these traits will make my child likable, they will not prepare her to succeed in education or get a job that pays a living wage.
Ask yourself: what is the goal of education? Do you want your child to have fun and make friends? Or, do you want your child to be prepared for the real world s/he will face upon graduation? I want both for my children. I want them to learn at school. At home, I provide them with opportunities for fun and socialization.
I hope you take time to read the Common Core Standards. http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/. You will see that each year builds upon the last. As such, Kindergarten is now an academic year of learning, rather than a social year of getting accustomed to being in a classroom. Introducing students to academic rigor at a young age sets a great foundation for their future academic successes. Kids will learn, at a very early age, that hard work leads to achievement…the kind of achievement that provides a real, true sense of joy. Our young children will learn that achievement is actually fun. Before long, their hard work will become habitual.
Will our kids struggle? Will our kids feel some pressure? Will our kids fail? You bet! Life is struggle, much of the time. Anything worth achieving requires a lot of hard work. If our kids are not struggling, they are not being challenged. It is hard to watch a child struggle, but it is necessary preparation for success in life. Failure, even at a very early age, will allow our kids to learn to take criticism and move on to the next challenge with a sense of the kind of hard work needed in order to succeed.
Our kids’ struggles and failures are a sign that the standards are working. These standards are significantly more difficult than the hodge-podge curricula used in the past. The point of the standards is to improve education. Kids who were getting A’s under the old curricula may experience lower grades under the new, more difficult standards because they don’t know them yet. Give it time. Be patient with them. They are learning a whole, new way of thinking.
Will some companies make a lot of money because they are in the business of writing and selling Common Core aligned tests? You bet! Is there another way to create a set of tests that will allow us to compare proficiency on a national scale? Districts can’t write these tests. They don’t have the resources. Hiring a few companies to write tests that will be used by many school districts is affordable and it just makes sense.
Is Common Core a federal takeover of education? No! The Common Core standards do not have implementation requirements. Instead, each state and school district has the authority to determine how the Common Core standards will be implemented. This implementation includes the choice and administration of standardized tests.
Are the Common Core aligned standardized tests “high stakes?” I am not sure where this term originated. What is “high stakes” about determining whether a Kindergartner has mastered the foundational skills necessary to move onto the first grade? Isn’t that something a parent would want to know? I know that most of the teachers at my children’s school are not stressing the importance of these tests to the students. The only conclusion I can draw is that the parents themselves are putting the pressure on these youngsters.
We have a national standard set by Common Core. Why can’t we have a test that measures students’ proficiency against other students in the nation? These tests allow us to concretely determine whether our children are mastering the skills they need in order to succeed. The tests are not flawed simply because our children are performing poorly on them. A low test score likely means that the child is struggling to master these new, rigorous standards. When this happens we need to take an active role, contact the educator, and determine how to best support his/her teaching efforts in the home.
Are we testing too much? Many teachers and administrators believe that too much classroom time is being used on testing. Thus, there is too little time left to teach. I intend to discuss with my district administrators the feasibility of decreasing the frequency of testing by removing some of the interim tests.
On a closing note, I challenge you to read the Common Core standards, before judging them further. http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/ When I hear discussions about Common Core with my piers, I almost always hear the talking points that I hear on the news. I challenge you to draw your own conclusions, without the “aid” of biased news sources and politicians motivated by money.
I wrote this after reading “An Open Letter to My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher,” by Philip Kovacs. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-kovacs/an-open-letter-to-my-sons_b_5621485.html