We would like to thank Ms. Samantha Koopman for this very helpful and concise op-ed guest post. We will be presenting all sides of this argument in the weeks to come.
Common Core is a shared curriculum across all Common Core states. The standards tell teachers what to teach, and how.
The Common Core is not a standardized curriculum! It is a set of standards for English Language Arts and Math (soon to include Science and Social Studies). Standards, such as state based standards or Common Core standards, provide the guidelines for proficiency and learning targets in specific domains and categories of learning.
Curricula are most often developed by each, individual school district and then tweaked by teaching professionals and principals within the district, allowing each district to tailor instruction to their students and decide how and when each standard will be addressed. The curriculum set by the district includes what materials such as textbooks, reading intervention programs and other learning materials will be used, the content being studied, and when it should be taught.
For example, the elementary school I am working at right now is on a military base, where we have a regular and consistent turnover rate of incoming and outgoing students. Despite most incoming students having been instructed in a state that aligns to Common Core, many of our new students are often behind, or ahead, of what we are learning in my classroom. This is because the curriculum sequence and skills were planned in a different order than the curriculum at my school.
Just remember – A common set of standards does not translate to uniformity in instruction, so if you have a problem with the textbook and learning materials, or the way a subject is taught during instruction in your child’s classroom, don’t blame your child’s teacher – take it up directly with your school district or your principal, because they are the ones who designed the curriculum.
The Common Core Standards are designed in a way that brings all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator of academic rigor. Common Core Standards do not take international standards into account, and are not internationally benchmarked.
The standards were designed by the most knowledgeable educational professionals from all 50 states in the country and were designed to align with the highest international educational standards of achievement. The standards are designed and focused on advancing critical thinking skills and preparing all students to be successful in college and careers. College and career-readiness standards were notably absent in a meaningful way in almost all state standards, even states with high standards prior to Common Core.
The Common Core is designed, in this respect, to raise all states’ standards of academic rigor, and there has been an explicit understanding since the start of Common Core that no state would ever lower its existing standards in order to align with Common Core.
Standards from all of the top-performing countries, internationally, played a significant role in developing the Common Core standards for English Language Arts, Literacy and especially Math. Evidence of this alignment with top performing academic standards internationally can be found in the appendix for the college – and career-ready standards, including a list of international standards that were considered and compared in the development of Common Core.
The Common Core is part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the federal government will be leading them.
Common Core is state-led, and is not a part of NCLB or any other federal education initiative. In fact, the federal government did not play any role in the development of Common Core, nor is its adoption by states considered mandatory. The Common Core was developed by numerous experts from all over the country, and was prompted in part to create a clear set of standards that were consistent prior to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocated funds for the Race to the Top grant program. Many states that continue to implement Common Core were not chosen to receive Race to the Top grants.
Common Core State Standards Initiative: Preparing America’s students for success. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015.