Common Core Controversy

It’s no secret that many of the states are going to Common Core State Standards. It’s also no secret that many (many many) people are adamantly against them. Apparently some states adopted them and then changed their mind and backed out. Who knows, maybe many more will too and CCSS will be a thing of the past.

pulling hair

Granted they’re not perfect, they don’t follow developmental norms, and they treat everyone equal…but ALL state standards do that.  I mean, HELLO! NCLB has school mandated to reach 100% proficiency EVEN students in special education. Like that’s doable! Talk about setting kids up to fail!

To me, one thing I like is that with CCSS what a student is exposed to per grade – should be pretty standard across the nation. I like that…I like knowing that if I move, my daughter will have been exposed to/taught to the same standards no matter where we go. I like knowing that kids moving into our district will all be exposed to synonyms/antonyms at which grade, division at which grade, etc… It makes being able to decide if a child has a lack of knowledge or a delay a bit easier.

The other thing I like about the CCSS is that it teaches skills. No more memorization… no more “teaching the test”… It is probably an unpopular view, but I’m all for teaching skills. I can look up proper grammar, I can look up the dates of wars, and I can look up a mathematical equation…provided I’ve been given the skills to do just that. Educators need to teach problem solving, perseverance, and critical thinking skills.

Think about it, what got us through school? What keeps us working and getting paid? Frankly, many kids these days give up way too quick, have no idea how to stick to something that’s difficult, and have no clue how to solve a problem. Now that I’ve really ticked some people off – please know I don’t mean every one. I know some fabulous teachers who bend over backwards to give the students the skills they need…I also know there are some who don’t.

Now…before I’m burned at the stake and you decide to unfollow me… Please know, I’m not 100% gung-ho (wait…is that a politically correct term?) on CCSS. Do they have bad points – of course they do. Yes, I think it’s ludicrous to test Kindergarten students…But I also think it’s a shame that athletics is more important than academics in many schools…and that the focus in kindergarten has shifted from social skills and a love of school to reading and math. I mean, the kinder kids in my schools are reading books before Christmas, they are doing addition and subtraction by Christmas. Kids have to know more earlier. That’s a fact of life. Do I like it? NO. I think kinder kids should be learning how to play with each other, follow directions, and learn how to listen…in short learn how to “do school” so they have success. But it is a fact of life that kids are in daycare from early on, many are in preschool from age 3 and by the time they are coming to kindergarten, they’ve already had 2 or 3 years of “school”. Face it folks…times are changing whether we like them or not. Perhaps it’s time to update the developmental norms (okay…ducking and running on that one…Good thing I have flame retardant underwear!).

Maybe I’m spoiled. My state has had state standards for many years. I honestly don’t know how many – but at least 7.  I still had to use the state standards to guide what I’m doing in therapy…just as I am for CCSS. Am I using it to create my goals? Of course not.

I’m taking the standards and saying – THIS – is where I need my student to get to…How do I get them there? Do I think they all will? Of course not – if they could they wouldn’t need an IEP. I look at the CCSS as a signpost…a direction to head. The mode of transportation and how far I go is completely up to me. I constantly hear that CCSS leaves our kids behind… Uhm.. Yeah. So do state standards. That’s no different. Our kids ARE behind. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be on IEPs.

I think, and perhaps this is even more controversial, that CCSS holds teachers accountable. It forces them to consider – WHY – are they requiring a student to learn XYZ? Does it have anything to do with what they need for life? Or is it because “we’ve always taught it?”  (as an aside, I really hate the phrase “we’ve always done it this way.” That’s code for I don’t want to change and you can’t make me!)

Change is hard… Is CCSS good change? I honestly don’t know. Like all change there’s good – there’s bad – and there’s in between. For now? I’m not going to make judgments. I’m going to get more information and see what’s truly happening.

Sooo…If you went to kindergarten and know how to play nice*…Tell me what you know about CCSS. Give me your logical reasons for and against (and yes, I know there will be more against – that’s a given). Also…tell me what you’re using now (or used in the past) to guide where kids should be going. Did your state have state standards before adopting CCSS?

Until then….Adventure on!

Mary

*if you don’t know how to play nice and are going to rant and rave that I’m an idiot or you spew other hate and vitriol please don’t post…the comments will be deleted. I truly want to hear your opinion and read your valid and well-thought out arguments for and against CCSS.

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8 thoughts on “Common Core Controversy

  1. I think you are a 100% correct! It is too soon to say if we love them completely as there is a learning curve! It is also a shame that we have to start poundinb the tough skills so early on but in order to get our students to where they need to be it’s how it has to be done! We need a scope and sequence and we need unity among the states. We also need to prepare our students for jobs and college and we need to be able to compete with other countries. The thing I like the most about the common core standards is they are very language based!!! I love that we are teaching our children to understand word relationships, defend the answers, and to answer higher level questions! Only time will tell if these standards meet the needs of our ever changing nation but I think they are a great start!

  2. I like how the Common Core (at least in Reading) has a very clear building of skills from one grade to the next from K-12. I like that the skills are subdivided into many sections, which helped me as an SLP select items that were most relevant for my students needs.

    My biggest concern with Common Core is the amount of standards per grade. I’d rather have fewer core standards that should be mastered. I think there are too many to be taught in a standard classroom and that sometimes more time is needed to review concepts or focus on areas of interest of the teacher/student. Honestly, most state standards have the same problems so it’s not a problem specific to Common Core.

  3. Mary- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As an SLP specializing in geriatrics (and doesn’t have children), I give little thought to the Common Core. From what you describe, I can definitely see some benefits in having consistency across school districts. When I was in middle school, I moved from one school district (okay performing) to another school district (one of the top) in the same state. As a student I noticed a big difference. Fortunately, I’ve always been one of the overachievers and has little difficulty catching up except in math. Never really felt I caught up with math. But I am still a reader not a mather.

    In the early 2000s I was in college to become and secondary English teacher. I remember talking to one of the staff members at a school I was working in (during college) about NCLB. The school was an urban school with many issues including poverty, violence, academically poor performing, etc. I remember being told that with NCLB they focused on the kids that were just below the performance standard. They sought the low hanging fruit and accepted that some kids just wouldn’t make the cut.

    I know there is a certain amount of business and policy involved in schools and in my speciality working with geriatrics. When the government is the third party payer, they try to make rules that will benefit the vast majority. It’s just so disappointing when you see policies that are supposed to advocate for better service end up doing the exact opposite. I can’t image how difficult the job of making policy is, but I sure hope that recent and coming changes for both students and elders are a step in the right direction.

  4. This is a great post! I too have things that I agree with on CCSS and others I do not. I think it’s good to hold us accountable to what we teach. Even if a student is extremely low, they can make progress in some area and should be making measurable progress, otherwise, we need to examine our teaching. One thing that does make me nervous about the CCSS is that it will become much harder to have a say and change anything in them since it has gone to the federal level instead of the state level. Soooo…for those of us who have adopted them, I think they’re here to stay for a while.

    • One of the comments I heard on FB was that CCSS would be responsible for making it so that “our” kids would never get recess or “specials.” Apparently, some districts (or states) require kids not making the standards to stay in to “remediate.” But that sort of antiquated idiocy isn’t because of CCSS. I completely agree that mindset is wrong – but that’s a case of voting out the idiots at the DOE and getting someone in that actually understands kids.

      One of the things that RTI (done right) has done also, is make teachers more accountable. I don’t think CCSS is the end all be all and I think there are going to be some major growing pains…but I can see potential.

  5. What I’d like to know, is why so many laypeople are rabidly against the CCSS? I see articles, posts, etc., from people from all walks of life who rant against it, saying that it’s a government take-over designed to turn our children into clones, that some of the standards are against religious beliefs, and on and on. I’ve only read the language-based ones, and I agree, I think it’s a good idea to have standards so our children are getting a complete and equitable education, no matter what part of the country they live in. Without standards, teachers could teach whatever they wanted and leave gaps in the students’ learning that will come back to bite them in the butt in other educational settings. No one says that you can’t teach other things besides the standards (given enough time which I know is another issue), things that will enrich your students’ learning and help them grow into well-rounded, articulate members of society, ready to pursue any ambition they have after secondary school.

  6. That was a great read! Thanks for sharing your views. Equality in education is something that should be practised as a norm in all the stated, for equivalent progress is possible only then.

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