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Effectiveness of Common Core Standards Leaves Educators Uncertain

by Michael Higham, published

Educators Uncertain on the Effectiveness of Common Core Standards Credit: CandyBox Images /

Last week, state government efforts to separate itself from Common Core standards was covered. There is also a lack of consensus among educators and experts on the effectiveness of Common Core. The curriculum has been critiqued as too strict on structure. Other critics have said it addresses what students learn, but does not help improve how students learn.

National Public Radio (NPR) zeroed in on the perception of Common Core at a high performing school in Kansas. That school is Shawnee High School, where 98 percent of students go on to college. Principal Karl Krawitz says the curriculum is dictatorial and a regurgitation of assessments.

However, NPR points out that Common Core is structured to guide what is supposed to be taught in the classroom. Common Core developer David Coleman told NPR, "it was actually teachers who had the most important voice in the development of the Common Core standards."

Education activist and former Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, continues to oppose the curriculum. She points out that the input from educators was minimal. Ravitch also states that while the U.S. Department of Education cannot prescribe a curriculum, it made adoption of Common Core a requirement to compete in the federal Race to the Top grant program.

Regarding the content of the standards, she draws a comparison to Finland; elementary to middle school mathematics standards fit on nine pages whereas Common Core contains 70+ pages.

She comments:

"It leaves little time for teachers to realistically prepare thoughtful curriculum or accomodate for developmental differences. Instead it promotes a highly prescribed training of children."

New York schools took the first standardized tests based on Common Core standards on Tuesday. The design of the tests are said to be flawed, where students are given more complex problems with less time. As a result, students were rushed to finish the test instead of having the opportunity to express what they have learned.

Common Core State Standards have been adopted in 45 states. It was phased in at certain schools beginning in 2010. The federal government has not been involved in the standards' development, but accepts efforts made by the states.

Skepticism of the first implementation of a national curriculum will continue. The concerns within Common Core are more than weighing whether its content is good or bad for students. Several factors contribute to the role and effectiveness of Common Core. At what level are the standards enforced? Are educators pressured to adhere to the curriculum without variation? Are students better equipped?

The emphasis placed on standardized testing is to be determined. There are currently no formal sanctions on schools or districts for not following the standards. As more states accumulate outcomes from the new curriculum, the effectiveness of Common Core can be discussed further.

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