The concept of Common Core is to create consistency in education across schools in the U.S., regardless of location. Most of the states have adopted this initiative, which provides rules that must be followed to provide a standard education. To emphasize the actual processes of, for example, mathematics, instead of just the answers, Common Core has garnered much praise – along with much resistance. There are several benefits of the Common Core concept, as well as some drawbacks. Following are a few of each:
The Pros of Common Core
- Common Core presents new and/or alternative ways of solving problems by figuring out how things work, instead of just memorizing steps by which to arrive at an answer. As explained by Chris Standerford, Director of the Seaborg Mathematics/Science Center, “We wanted to make sure that students were continuing to be able to do the computations, but that they also had the opportunity to go a little bit deeper with the number sense and figuring out how mathematics really operates.”
- Teachers overall are noticing a difference in many kids who, in the past, were not successful academically. Renee Kivioja, a math and science teacher and coordinator, says it’s nice to see students who haven’t had a successful past start to understand, and start to say, “I like this. It makes more sense.” An entire new group of kids is discovering how success feels in the classroom.
- More accountability is placed on students, so they can no longer just jot down a simple, quick answer and get credit for it – without knowing how they arrived at that answer, which shows students how to work for results. The standard also decreases costs associated with developing individual sets of testing for each state, and children can pick up their education right where they left off if they should move during the school year, no matter which state they move to. Finally, having internationally benchmarked standards will help the country see improved results in educational rankings.
The Cons of Common Core
- Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of Common Core is the fact that the assessment tests are not designed for children with special needs – there is also no equivalency test. Therefore, every ounce of accountability goes to every student, regardless of ability or inability, when schools report their test scores.
- Standards are still vague and very broad, which often leads to confusion in how teachers should go about teaching the curriculum. While it’s true that there are rules for educating children through the 8th grade, high school has no regulations about how to teach. This leaves enormous room for individual schools and teachers to just decide how to go about the process.
- Common Core is an initiative that requires a very heavy amount of technology to carry out; this may not only cause challenges for students and teachers who are physically disabled, but it also places an enormous financial burden on schools as they replace textbooks with computers and other technological devices for instruction.
Although there remains much disagreement among parents, educators, and students regarding the overall value of Common Core, what is not up for debate is the fact that adjusting to the curriculum is difficult for students and teachers, which may cause (and has caused) educators to step down from their positions. Children have a difficult time adjusting to a completely different way of learning than what they are used to, and teachers must abide by teaching methods that they may not be very comfortable with. There is no one way of teaching that works for every single child in the American school systems, but Common Core at least is an initiative that attempts to get us a little bit closer – or does it?