A national poll released this week reveals that most Americans have never heard of Common Core State Standards, but the new standards are already shaping what gets taught and how it gets taught here and across the country.
Common Core introduces new education standards that will replace the old standards set by individual states. Supporters say that they stress critical thinking and problem-solving, which will better prepare students for the workforce and global economy.
Common Core differs from the previous California state standards in that it has a stronger focus on method rather than material.
“They tend to be a little more on how things on covered, rather than the material that needs to be covered,” said John Baker, who teaches geometry and calculus.
This focus on “how,” rather than “what,” has already effected change in many teachers’ classrooms. Since Common Core will be unifying essential subjects, the material in one class may share features with that of another.
Social studies teacher Curt Casazza said, “I also have writing assignments in my class as well, like free response questions on tests.” Common Core has affected science teacher Phillip Montbriand’s lessons similarly.
“There will be changes that will integrate more reading, writing, speaking and listening into the science classes,” he said.
Though Common Core centers on how teachers will present the material to their students, it still brings considerable to change to what will be taught.
“They try to reduce the amount of the old standards so that there are fewer that you need to cover, but we’re supposed to cover the core standards in more depth,” said Baker.
So, is Common Core something that the educational system will benefit from? Valencich, Baker, and Montbriand agree.
“Yes, instead of separating each discipline they are pulling all the subjects together, so assessments of students will be more accurate,” said Valencich.
Common Core has caused some controversy, however. Critics say that the new standards place too much emphasis on testing and doubt how Common Core is being handed down by a national organization.
Baker said, “I’m okay with having the federal government do it, because I do believe that as a nation, we should all be trying to achieve the same goals. So if those goals at the state level vary too widely, then we may not be producing consistent results.”
The question of how large the impact of Common Core assessments on teachers still remains. Should it play a large part in a teacher’s evaluations?
Many teachers doubt the effectiveness of judging a teacher’s competence based on test scores.
Montbriand said, “There are too many variables in judging teachers based on student test scores for it to be accurate for of evaluation.”
Common Core is an inevitable change that will shape the way students are prepared for the future. Only time will tell if it has any significant effect.