An Exploration of the Common Core: What are the departments saying?

Hello everyone!

I know it seems like I’m flip-flopping between what this blog should be about; actually, I am flip-flopping, nothing “seeming” about it at all XD To the point, this blog will now feature, not only personal blogs, but posts for Teach-Now, an online school I’m taking to get my teacher’s certificate. This blog will fulfill one assignment for the second module. Hope you enjoy!

To begin, I confess that I don’t like the Common Core standards. While I haven’t had much hands-on experience with it, I’ve spoken with teachers who have and have seen Common Core worksheets online. To see some particularly offending examples, go here: http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/22/epic-fail-parents-reveal-insane-common-core-worksheets/

Yet, despite my dislike of CCS, I’ve decided to use this assignment as an opportunity to acquaint myself with the official page and see what supporting organizations have to say. Since I know so little, I might as well know both sides of the story before jumping to any conclusions. Without further ado, here is what I learned from these 11 official websites:

1. The National Educational Association: Clearly, the NEA is all for CCSS. Their “Vision and Goal” statement is:

“NEA believes the Common Core State Standards have the potential to provide access to a complete and challenging education for all children. Broad range cooperation in developing these voluntary standards provides educators with more manageable curriculum goals and greater opportunities to use their professional judgment in ways that promote student success” (NEA 2014).

I noticed that it said these standards are “voluntary:” I hope it remains that way since, as I’ve learned from watching some TED Talks, creativity is the soul of education, and if we are not allowed to experiment, education pays the price.

Happily, I’ve discovered the “Message Guidance on Common Core State Standards” section, and am relieved to see what appears to be admissions that educators and policymakers are having difficulty communicating and that this causes and worsens already poor “implementation” of standards in school systems. From what I can tell, since we are still in the experimental stages of CCSS, this means that there are still a whole lot of kinks to be worked out. Like IOS8 on the iPhone, perhaps, given more time, CCSS will finally be all straightened out and will work as originally designed. I’m particularly glad to see this official page admitting that teachers who want to fix these problems are being blockaded by policyholders, which only causes more problems in the system. Finally, a realistic and official webpage! My confidence is building in the potentials of CCSS already.

I’m also pleased to discover a wide variety of resources (including videos!) for those who, like me, are new to CCSS. When I have more time, I’ll be sure to check them out. For now, here’s the official link to the “Message Guidance on Common Core State Standards” page: http://www.nea.org/home/56614.htm

2. The American Federation of Teachers: Under the “Frequently Asked Questions” subcategory under the “Common Core State Standards” section, I’ve found almost everything I could ever want to know about the AFT’s stance on CCSS. Not only do they fully endorse it, they also believe it to be the way of the future! It honestly sounds to good to be true (here’s hoping it isn’t!). Of particular importance, they note that,

“The Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with the problem-solving, critical-thinking and teamwork skills they need to compete in today’s changing world. This approach to learning moves away from rote memorization and endless test-taking and toward deeper learning” (FAQ 2014). – See more at: http://www.aft.org/education/common-core/frequently-asked-questions#sthash.1dHkGZvP.dpuf

So, no more unnecessary memorization? No more binge-and-purge learning? That’s what an old teacher of mine called “rote memorization”, as addressed above. In the old system, tons of information is crammed into the head and then, come test time, is expelled violently onto paper to be graded. The information goes out of the brain and onto the paper, never to be return. I can’t tell you how many tests I took in high school, and I can’t remember much anything about them. It would be nice to be part of a system where that wasn’t the case anymore.

The website next goes on to say that, “By focusing on less content more deeply, there is less racing through a course of study and more searching for evidence and conceptual understanding” (FAQ 2014). – See more at: http://www.aft.org/education/common-core/frequently-asked-questions#sthash.1dHkGZvP.dpuf

It sounds as if CCSS is trying to take the small school approach to learning. I volunteered at my church’s school for several months and noticed how much of a difference it made to be able to give students ample time to master less subjects at their own pace. Our school even used a version of Khan Academy (I sadly don’t remember the name) to help with math, and I could definitely see how much students improved.

Yet, the AFT has inadvertently brought up a point of contention among the teachers at my church’s school, as cited here:

“The Common Core requires students to understand how they reached their conclusions and understand multiple methods of achieving the right answer; analyze and interpret texts, literature and historical moments based on multiple perspectives; be able to argue for and defend their work; and work with other students in mas­tering concepts and completing work. In short these deeper skills prepare students for the challenges and opportunities that await them in college and their careers.” – See more at: http://www.aft.org/education/common-core/frequently-asked-questions#sthash.1dHkGZvP.dpuf

The section is bold is the part my teacher friends dislike. The subject in question is math, and their problem is that the children are taught so many different methods at the same time that they have trouble distinguishing one method from another. Instead of mastering one method and then building upon that mastery with another method (as the program wishes), the children aren’t given enough time in-between lessons for mastery to occur. Therefore, while they’re trying to learn one method, another method is quickly introduced in, and confusion is the unfortunate result. Mind you, I’m talking about a 3rd and 4th grade class’s experience, so perhaps this is just one way in which that method doesn’t work. Since children go through stages, perhaps introducing multiple solving methods at this stage goes against the best interest of the student’s developing mind. Thus, as the NEA noted above, this is just one more kink in the system that needs to be worked out. Let’s hope this happens!

3. The Council of Chief State School Officers: This website led me to a pdf called “Implementation Tools and Resources,” which, unfortunately, did not list any particular stance by the CCSSO. I can safely assume, though, that the CCSSO, in posting so many resources, believes in and upholds CCSS. As I look further, I see my assumption is correct as CCSSO has created videos to aid in the “implementation” of CCSS. The resource list is fairly substantial, running over 26 pages! I must remember to come back and visit this site when I have more time…

4. The Common Core State Standards: We now move on to THE Common Core website. Boy, where do I start? Well, since I have lots more sites to explore, I’ll spend most of my time here, at the end. Stick around!

5. The Association for the Advancement of International Education: Huh. Either I’m not looking in the right place, or this website has nothing to say about CCSS. Alrighty then… moving right along!

6. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization: …I’m not finding anything here either. O_o This is not good. I found what seems to be a page listing the state standards for CCSS, but that was a site that was in connection with UNESCO… Well, then…

7. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (now known as United Nations Children’’s Fund): Ah, UNICEF. …this can’t be right. Why are my searches turning up with nothing?

8. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development & Centre for Educational Research and Innovation: Well, if I’m even in the right place, I’ve at least found something of promise. Although I haven’t found any official stance on CCSS, I have found two articles about how CCSS can help improve PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) scores. Apparently, we, the USA, are very far behind when it comes to math, with China rushing two years ahead of our students (PISA 2012). I’m not surprised in the least.

9. Education for All (by UNESCO): Huh. I am again taken to the same search results as when I looked at UNESCO. Well, I should mention one article in particular that catches my eye:

http://www.iiep.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Cap_Dev_Training/pdf/2011/Course_outline_2011.pdf

It’s three years out of date, but it at least says something about how the rest of the world implements CCSS.

10. The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative: I’m going to let the gif do the talking now-

willy wonka nothing gif

11. Global Partnership for Education: … do I even have to say it?

So, as I promised earlier, I’m now getting to the CCSS official page. I didn’t leave myself a lot of time to do this, so I’m just going to list off what I think are the most important resources featured on this, the main website:

http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/

http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/

http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/frequently-asked-questions/

For me, this right here is the most important link of all:

http://www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-english-language-arts/

Well, I’m calling it a night. Sorry folks, this one was a bit of a train-wreck. I leave you with this:

procrastination-poster

Don’t be like me, kids. don’t be like meeeeee

Alrighty, for this assignment, here are the websites that I visited:

nea.org, aft.org, ccsso.org, corestandards.org, aaie.org, en.unesco.org, unicef.org, oecd.org, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/education-for-all/, ungei.org

And here is the APA Bibliography for what I did actually use in this blog:

“Frequently Asked Questions” (2014). The American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved on October 19, 2014, from

http://www.aft.org/education/common-core/frequently-asked-questions

“Message Guidance on Common Core State Standards” (2014).National Education Association. Retrieved on October 19,

2014, from http://www.nea.org/home/message-guidance-on-ccss.html

“Our Position and Actions” (2014). National Education Association. Retrieved on October 19, 2014,

from http://www.nea.org/home/56614.htm

“Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results from PISA 2012” (2012). OECD. Retrieved October 20, 2014,

from http://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/PISA-2012-results-US.pdf

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s