An In-Depth Look at the Common Core State Standards

An In-Depth Look into the Common Core

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What is the Common Core? It is a question that has most certainly been asked over and over again throughout the last few years. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been discussed in-depth and dissected by the national media.  Because of this most Americans are familiar with the term Common Core, but do they really understand what they entail?

The short answer to the question is that the Common Core State Standards are potentially the most revolutionary and controversial public school reform in the history of United States public education. Most public school teachers and students have been impacted significantly by their implementation. The way students learn and the way teachers teach has changed because of the nature of the Common Core and associated components.

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards has thrust education, particularly public education, into a spotlight that it has never been in before. This has been both good and bad. Education should always be a focal point for every American. Unfortunately, too many people take it for granted. A select few see no value in education at all.

As we move forward, the American mindset towards education must continue to change. The Common Core State Standards were seen as a step in the right direction by many. However, the standards have been criticized by many educators, parents, and students.  Several states, once committed to adopting the standards, have opted to repeal them and move on to something else. Even still forty-two states, the District of Columbia, and four territories remain committed to the Common Core State Standards. The following information will help you better understand the Common Core State Standards, how they are being implemented, and how they are impacting teaching and learning today.

Introduction to the Common Core State Standards

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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed by a council made up of state governors as well as state heads of education. Their charge was to develop a like set of internationally benchmarked standards that would be adopted and used by every state. Forty-two states have currently adopted and implemented these standards. Most began full implementation in 2014-2015. The standards were developed for grades K-12 in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The standards were written to be rigorous and to prepare students to compete in a global economy.

Common Core State Standards Assessments

No matter how you feel, standardized testing is here to stay. The development of the Common Core and their associated assessments will only raise the level of pressure and importance of high-stakes testing. For the first time in the history of United States education, most states will be teaching and assessing from the same set of standards. This will arguably allow those states to compare the quality of education they provide to their children accurately. Two consortium groups are responsible for developing the assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments will be designed to test higher level thinking skills, will almost be exclusively computer-based and will have written components associated with almost every question.

Pros and Cons of the Common Core State Standards

There are clearly two sides to every argument, and the Common Core State Standards will undoubtedly have proponents and opponents. There are many pros and cons when discussing the Common Core Standards. Over the past several years we have seen much debate over them. Some of the pros include that the standards are internationally benchmarked, they will allow states to compare standardized test scores accurately, and students will be better prepared for life after high school. Some cons include a level of increased stress and frustration by school personnel. The standards are also vague and broad, and the overall cost of implementing the standards will be expensive.

Impact of the Common Core State Standards

The scope of the impact of the Common Core State Standards is extraordinarily large. Virtually every person in the United States will be impacted in some form whether you be an educator, student, parent, or community member. Each group will play a role in successfully implementing the Common Core. It will be impossible to meet these rigorous standards if everyone is not doing their part. The biggest impact is that the overall quality of education provided to students across the United States could potentially improve. This will be especially true if more people take an active interest in assisting with that education by whatever means necessary.

Turmoil for the Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards have no doubt created a firestorm of public opinion. They have in many aspects been unfairly caught in the middle of a political battle.  They have been championed by many as a saving grace for public education and described as toxic by others.  Several states, once on board with the standards, have since repealed them opting to replace them with "home grown" standards.  The very fabric of the Common Core State Standards has been torn apart in some sense. These standards have been muddled despite the best intentions of the authors who originally penned them.  The Common Core State Standards may eventually survive the turmoil, but there is little doubt that they will never have the once anticipated impact that many thought they would a few short years ago.