"For decades, students in different states have been taught different material at different rates and held to radically different standards. Several years ago, a small group of governors joined together in an effort to align their states' standards and assessments. This group expanded through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. In 2007, curriculum...
Common Core Standards
The Common Core Standards are coming! The Common Core Standards are coming!
The Common Core Standards are on the educational horizon, though their advent perhaps does not have the same urgency as an impending British invasion. In 2014, all but a few states are scheduled to implement the Common Core Standards ("CCS") in their K-12 public school classrooms.
The CCS is the result of a federally-supported effort to establish clear and rigorous national standards with which to judge American students' educational progress. The Standards cover two general areas: English Language Arts and Mathematics. The explicit goal of the CCS is to effectively "prepare children for college and the workforce."
Several trends in recent education history have contributed to the development of the CCS. One is America's increased reliance on student evaluation through standardized tests.
Standardized testing played a prominent role in President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act of 2002, which aimed at having 100% of students test proficient in reading and math by 2014. Under NCLB, each state was allowed to set its own proficiency standards, and states generally set them quite low. Many believe that American education and test scores have suffered because of this, particularly when compared to international scores which show U.S. students ranking 17th in reading proficiency, 32nd in math, and 23rd in science.
In an attempt to boost these scores, President Obama introduced Race to the Top, a program which used federal dollars to incentivize states toward education innovation and better test scores. One of the ways to gain points in the Race to the Top program was to "adopt…common standards." Nearly every state decided to adopt the Common Core Standards, which had been developed in 2007 by the National Governor's Association.
Controversy over the Common Core Standards has increased as the implementation deadline looms and several states which originally committed to CCS are now backing out. Interestingly, the divide over the CCS is not necessarily along political party lines.
Proponents of the CCS argue that the Standards are a much-needed answer to the search for greater seriousness and unity in America's K-12 curriculum. The CCS does this by focusing on primary source documents and less "fluff" reading and writing. A 2010 study conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute concluded that the CCS were indeed "clearer and more rigorous" than the standards currently employed by three-quarters of U.S. states. If true, the CCS would be a great boon to American education, especially since the latest ACT results show that state standards aren't adequately preparing students for college, as over 1/4 of high school graduates did not meet the ACT college readiness benchmarks.
Yet others argue that the Standards are not rigorous enough, for they only equip students to handle course work at a two-year college, and not a university-level school. Curriculum expert Marion Brady raises other objections to the CCS, some of which include the fact that it doesn't provide teachers with enough freedom; it doesn't address the needs of individual students; it doesn't address the real problems with education in this country; and that it promotes a deficient pedagogy. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and former proponent of the CCS, has recently voiced objections to the Standards as well, largely out of fear that teachers will not be prepared enough to teach them.
One of the biggest problems opponents have with CCS, however, is that the Standards open the way for an unprecedented intrusion of the federal government into the states' rights. Education in America has traditionally been left to state and local control due to a common understanding of the 10th Amendment. Yet with almost mass acceptance of the CCS, some fear that these Standards lay the groundwork for the future implementation of a national curriculum that would dictate the content of all students' education, even those in private and home schools.
The Common Core Standards are coming, and you should probably gain some familiarity with them, as they will most likely shape American education in the near future. This library topic will provide you with information on the Standards themselves, the history and ideas behind their creation, and the arguments for and against their implementation.
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