02 February 2014

Why I Support the Common Core

 With continued backlash against the Common Core State Standards, I decided I should take some time to blog about why I support the standards as a parent and as an educator.  I do not support all the scenarios I've seen/heard regarding implementation (and companies trying to make a profit) but for the standards themselves--I support them.  Here's why--

My Point of View as a Parent

1.  My son's writing has improved because he's writing in his content classes (English, science, social studies).  He's not writing fluff either.  He's writing academic essays and research papers, the kind of writing he will do when he goes to college.

2.  My son gets to read the nonfiction texts he enjoys.  Because of the push to include more nonfiction texts, he's reading both fiction and nonfiction now, and that makes sense to me.  He also gets to select what he reads for indepedent reading (he often chooses fiction) because his teachers support effective literacy practices that encourage student choice in reading.  Now some would say that's the opposite of what the CCSS require, but I would argue that it's poor implementation and poor instructional practices that lead people down the path of no student choice in reading.

3.  My son is learning math that will help him as he pursues his interests in STEM fields.  Because he started learning the new math standards in elementary school, by the time he started middle school, he was ready for more intense math courses.  He's learning math now that I didn't learn until my high school years, and it's working for him.  He enjoys it and even gets up early to go to school for extra help if he needs it, and the teacher is there to provide that support.

4.  My son is creating digital projects as called for in the Common Core.

5.  My son is rising to the high expectations set forth in these College and Career Readiness standards.  He's being challenged, and he's learning.  Isn't that the goal of school--learning!?

My Point of View as an Aunt

My nieces and nephews are also rising to the challenges of the Common Core at their schools in North Carolina.  However, because of poor implementation and in some situations poor instructional practices or poor decisions made by the schools and districts, my young nieces and nephews are spending hours each night on homework.  In my sisters' eyes, this is because of the CCSS.  I can't blame them for thinking this, especially since the schools tell them it's because of the standards.  This, to me, screams of poor implementation and poor decisions made by people working with the teachers.  As committed parents, my sisters are pushing through the situation and are willing to consider this distinction between the standards themselves and poor implementation of them.

My Point of View as an Educator

As an educator I support the Common Core State Standards.  I have spent countless hours (hundreds) working with the standards beginning before they were published in their final drafts.  Throughout these hundreds of hours I've worked on understanding, helping others understand, deconstructing, creating lessons and assessment items and teaching the standards.

In these hundreds of hours, I've met middle and high school teachers who like the Common Core, are implementing the standards and are pleased with the results.  A benefit as a teacher is the common language and collaboration across schools, districts, and states.  Too often teaching becomes a place where you feel like you are on an island by yourself.  Because of the common language and learning standards, teachers can now collaborate across state lines and share best practices in teaching.

In my teaching life (teaching pre-service teachers) I have taught the standards as a way to model what my students will teach in their middle and high school classrooms.  The benefit in this situation is that as pre-service teachers, students can practice teaching lessons they might actually use in their classrooms when they are hired as teachers.

My Questions

My biggest questions for those who oppose the Common Core State Standards include
  • How much time have you spent with the standards?  
  • Have you taught any of the standards yourself? 
  • Are you opposed to the standards or how they are being implemented and tested on a large scale?