As many schools across the country enter their final month, they are another year closer to a drastic change that has been looming for a while. In 2010, the Common Core State Standards (or just the “Standards,” as the Common Core State Standards website refers to them) were developed and introduced. Since then, 45 out of the 50 states, along with a number of US territories and the District of Columbia, have adopted the standards and are scheduled to fully integrate them in the next one to two school years.
The Standards are meant to revamp the curricula in US schools, which currently have no common standards across different states, and ensure that all the students in a single grade are following the same general principles. The Standards were developed with the intention of preparing high school students for achievement in college and successful twenty-first century jobs. Although the majority of the country has adapted to the new standards and is currently reforming its school districts, concerns are arising amongst the public as schools are coming closer to making the switch. Widespread nervousness and general misunderstanding over the Standards are causing people to question the 2010 decision. A few myths in particular seem to have seeped into the public mind; the following paragraphs will address these myths and provide the truth according to the authors of the Standards.
Myth #1: The new Common Core educational standards will bring higher state standards down to the lowest benchmark level across all adopting states.
Yes, one of the intentions of the Common Core is to more or less put all students on the same level, but that doesn’t mean they intend to put students on a lower level. In fact, when schools utilizing the Common Core Standards were compared to those using current state standards, scores in schools using the Common Core Standards were found to be superior to 39 states’ math scores and 37 states’ ELA scores. The new standards aim higher in order to improve scores for all students nationwide, not downgrade student standards to accommodate lower-achieving students and school systems, as some may think.
Myth #2: Classical literature will be left behind in the new curricula.
The Standards suggest that reading done in high school should be 30 percent literary and 70 percent informational, which makes it seem like there is little room for the classic literature that is commonly required and deemed fundamental in current ELA curricula. However, those who believe beloved classics will be forgotten are under the impression that 100 percent of reading will be done in ELA classes. In reality, the larger part of the suggested 70 percent informational reading will most likely be done in history and science classes, leaving plenty of room for classical reading to be done in ELA classes.
Myth #3: The Common Core will still not allow US achievements to match foreign countries’ achievements.
A primary US expert in international math performance, William H. Schmidt, claims that the Common Core math standards in the United States are comparable to those in the highest-achieving countries. While it will take time for US achievements to parallel the most accomplished countries, the Common Core seems to be a step in the right direction.
The overall truth is that the success of the Common Core State Standards depends on effective reworking of curricula, appropriate instructional material and technological support, and proper professional development for teachers and staff. It also demands improved communication between parents, staff members and students. The achievement of US students is up to each individual school district implementing the standards in a valuable way.