As an increasing number of schools adopt "universal" (nationwide) educational standards, our kids face new approaches and assessments while their teachers are held to new expectations. Here's a summary of feedback so far.

By now you've probably heard about "Common Core State Standards" (CCSS), but you might be wondering what it all means, and how it will affect your child. Or more specifically, whether it will be a positive or negative change.

Since 2010, 45 states have adopted the CCSS, a set of unified standards (expectations or learning outcomes) in math and language arts. Previously, each state determined their own standards, which potentially diminished the education of students who moved from state to state, or left them behind in their grade.

The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.

The official definition of the initiative is as follows: "The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two- or four- year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school" (source).

CCSS is a state-led endeavor. It is not administered by the federal government (though this is a common misconception).

The goal of the initiative is to "provide all students with an equal opportunity for an education, regardless of where they live [and] ensure more consistent exposure to materials and learning experiences through curriculum, instruction and teacher preparation among other supports for student learning" (source).

The other side

Criticism of CCSS centers around claims of "too little research, public dialogue or input from educators" (source). Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige argue that grades K-3 were particularly underrepresented by educators: "We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional" (source).

We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.

CCSS has also been criticized for its reduction in literature as required reading and a lack in actual evidence-based research backing CCSS. "The promoters of the standards claim they are based in research. They are not. There is no convincing research, for example, showing that certain skills or bits of knowledge (such as counting to 100 or being able to read a certain number of words) if mastered in kindergarten will lead to later success in school" (source).

However, I spoke with multiple teachers in many states, and their input was almost uniformly positive.


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Rachel, a K-12 teacher in Iowa, believes CCSS is a "great start" and a "terrific idea" because "you have kids who move all over the country and there is no continuity. Kids from school to school, state to state had nothing in common before."


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Katie, a high school teacher in Michigan, states: "I do support the common core and by working on ways to implement them… our staff is doing amazing, project-based learning. After 10 years in the classroom, I am finally teaching the way I know is best for my students."


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Rebecca, a kindergarten teacher in California, asserts: "Common Core is everything I want my kids to learn! As an educator, as a parent and as a member of society, I'm excited. We tried No Child Left Untested for 10 years and it didn't work. CC gives us critical thinkers who problem solve, ask important questions and evaluate everything that comes before them (so important in the internet age)."


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On the other hand, Dani, a teacher in Texas, believes CCSS is more of the same broken system: "It compounds problems that already exist. It's more 'every kid needs to fit inside this box' education. Which is untrue."

To continue your own research on CCSS, the official website can be found here, and a collection of robust criticism (with references) can be found here.

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