Sunday, August 18, 2013

Facts and Fears about Common Core State Standards

With the 2013-14 academic year beginning - or about to begin - depending on where you live, and in conjunction with "F Week" at ABCWednesday, I thought I'd present some facts and fictions about the Common Core State Standards, which again, depending on where you live may be in effect for this upcoming academic year.
FACTS: The Common Core State Standards initiative are state-led efforts coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Cener) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

These Standards were set up to raise the educational bar and expectations for our students and educators, to not only help students meet college's academic demands, but to help make our students and our schools more competitive nationally and internationally. Furthermore, they were written by a panel of experts convened by governors and state superintendents, and focus on critical thinking and analysis rather than memorization and formulas.

Common Core Highlights:
  • The Standards set guidelines emphasizing critical reading and thinking. 
  • The Standards encourage integrating fiction and non-fiction texts across subject and content area. These guidelines outline what is expected at each level and encourage varied types texts and text formats without specifically naming texts, books or how teachers should plan their lessons.  That is up to the state, city, district, schools and/or teachers.
  • The Standards promote critical and analytic reading, writing, and analytic skills in language arts, math, science and social studies.
  • The Standards promote more connectivity between school subjects - reinforcing content across areas and making it more meaningful. They also attempt to unify educational goals across the country.

FEARS and Oppositions:
  • While the Standards were initially embraced by most teachers and unions, opposition began when the Obama administration ramped up its efforts to promote them. Unions then began expressing concerns that there has not been enough time to effectively train and prepare teachers in their implementation. 
  • Unions also expressed concern over how educators would be evaluated, especially as on a parallel front there's been a huge debate on teacher effectiveness, accountability and pay.
  • As the Obama administration got involved, many Republicans identified this push as another example of federal overreach - along with Obamacare and took issue with federal money being tied to the Standards.
  • There as also fear that the Standards, and in particular tests aligned with them have been set too high. These voices and concerns were underscored last week when New York State and Kentucky, both  early adopter of the Standards, released reading and math exam results where student proficiency fell sharply.

Here is a fascinating infographic from

And one more infographic on getting kids ready for math (from:

Most agree that these Standards are GOOD standards.  We've lowered the bar too far over the years. The less we expect of our students and teachers, the less we will receive and we deserve a lot more.

We also agree that students have to be much more comfortable and skilled reading, writing, and analyzing all kinds of texts and text formats. We somehow need to remove the politicians, the testing, and the threats of job/funding loss and give the Standards a chance of success.

For more please see: Common Core Standards and Changes: What are they and what's the fuss. This post not only explains the Standards in more detail, it provides reading suggestions as well.

Please your your thoughts, facts and fears of the Common Core State Standards in the comments.
In the meantime, I thank you for your visit.


  1. NYS educators called the recent (low) scores a "new baseline. A lot of teaching to the test, and my wife, who is a teacher is considering opting our daughter out. The issues are what she would do instead and whether she would somehow suffer some retribution if she did so. A really sore subject in our household.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    1. I can understand. I don't know if it's available in your area, but a lot of schools are allowing students to take online courses through K-12. Not necessarily the best answer, but it might be another option to look at.

  2. Right on Meryl.
    The less we expect and prepare the less we get in results.
    That's the way it is in everyday life too.
    Great point.

  3. A great post, Meryl. I hope it will raise standards and give students something to aim for.

  4. For me as a foreigner is this very complicated. Of course we have also rules and standards. We also have a certain amount of freedom in teaching as long as the final result is sufficient.
    Well, Meryl, thanks for your contribution, which is of the highest standard as always.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  5. I agree with the government over-reach comments, even if the standards are higher. We have choice in this country, and that is being taken away. I have seen information that says there will be indoctrination to a greater degree than there already is. Material like political speeches will be the reading material, not literature or history. Much of our history has been changed or removed from the textbooks. Christian beliefs will not be tolerated. The goal is to prepare the children to accept the New World Order and not to have pride in their country or ethnicity; and to accept Socialism. I disagree with it totally.

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