Will Common Core help our students succeed in literacy and mathematics?

June 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 4 Comments

(By Emily Bennett)

Common Core State Standards are here and there is nothing we can do about them but adapt our teaching styles and methods to include the material. Once you get past this, we can move into the more important idea: Does the common core help or hinder our students? According to a recent resolution passed by the Republican National Committee, the common Core is, “A national straightjacket on academic freedom and achievement.”

The Common Core standards are in place to try and set coherent standards on what children should know about math and English by various grades. These standards emphasize analytic reasoning.  The common core standards say that students should, “be challenged to solve rich, relevant problems that require effort and persistence”.  At first glace, this seems like a reasonable expectation for students.

Yet if we did a little further, we find that maybe the RNC is correct. As we learned in class, research states that children should spend 85% of their time at a reading level that they can comfortably read on their own and 15% of the time at a level where they need assistance. Children should not spend any time reading at a level that frustrates them.  The common core standards are saying that we need to give our students more difficult material to work through so that we can close the gap between what they know leaving high school and what they need to be college or career ready.  Many of our students, however, will find themselves reading at a level that frustrates them the majority of the time. This clearly goes against what the current research says.

In conclusion, it is unclear if the common core standards are going to be implemented successfully and result in student success.  What is clear is that there are strong opinions on both side of the coin regarding CCSS.



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  1. Over the last couple of months the major topic of all pre-service teachers has been the common core standards, and how they will affect us as teachers. When looking at the blog posts by fellow classmates I felt obligated to read this particular blog. After reading this post I am still on the fence on how I feel about this idea of the common core standards. I believe that the standards are used to provide specific content throughout an educational system, and putting the basics not only on teachers in early childhood, but also in secondary education. One of the main things that we know from research is that young adolescents learn from repetition, http://ehis.ebscohost.com.pluma.sjfc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=c9e97401-2b97-4f8d-b83d-b50ff52d1a7c@sessionmgr12&hid=4 .

    This posting doesn’t directly have any questions associated with it, however I think the underlying question is whether the common core stands will succeed. I believe that it is possible for the standards to succeed, however you are not going to see the results from the beginning. At this point they are being used in early childhood education; however there is another year before they need to be instituted into the high school curriculum. Therefore there is going to be a gap in transition from the current standards to the new common core standards. Clearly this means that people are going to need to be patient, and cannot expect to see the results immediately, and the board who creates the standards need not change them within the next couple of years. Patience will be imperative to make this change possible.

    In reference to the information learned in class regarding reading levels, it seems impossible that 85% of student’s time should be spent on independent reading. I believe that students are generally frustrated in school with the provided readings because they have not been provided strategies that allow them to understand their textbooks. This frustration then carries over to reading in general, and then students are not willing to spend the recommended amount of time reading on their own. Since we know that 85% of free time for students should be spent reading, we need to find ways to engage students that are reluctant to read. We can look at the following article by Wayne Brinda to get ideas of how to engage these students to reach the desired reading goals, http://ehis.ebscohost.com.pluma.sjfc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=c9e97401-2b97-4f8d-b83d-b50ff52d1a7c%40sessionmgr12&hid=17.

    In the end, the major concern with the common core standards is whether they will succeed or prove to be another system that fails. Only time will tell what will happen with this program, we need to be patient and put for our best efforts as future teachers to make the core standards effective.

  2. I agree with Emily that it is unclear if the common cores are going to implement success since there are so many strong opinions on it. I think that many people are scared of change, and try to push it back before really seeing the clear picture about it. Expanding on Steph’s idea of “The new standards encourage a deeper, more lasting, learning of the material by shifting the focus to a few key concepts and building off of them. There are also many potential benefits of bringing in outside reading sources into the classroom.”, can allow us to also can a deeper learning and teaching experience. As teachers, and future educators we need to look at the bigger picture and understand that these new reading standards are not here to benefit us, but our student’s long, lasting deeper thinking. Encouraging reading in content areas and challenging their skills will help them better prepare for college and the work field.
    As Randi Weingarten mentions in her video, the common core allows us to have a common focus on what students know and are able to do as a country. This way when students go to college, any college, they can understand the teachings a little better regardless of where they went to high school. The country can have the same sort of standards when it comes to reading and math, which can allow the students to better learn together as a whole. ( http://www.corestandards.org/voices-of-support/watch/9? )
    In conclusion, the more we push away from the common goal the more we push away our students from learning the bigger picture. In an article done by Derrick Meador, he states “The true impact that they have on schools and education as a whole will not be known for several years.” ( http://teaching.about.com/od/assess/f/What-Are-Some-Pros-And-Cons-Of-The-Common-Core-Standards.htm ) So in my opinion, we really can not complain about how it will affect the students until we have the results. If we work together and make it happen, then maybe the common core standards will not be as bad, and we can get back to the people who matter the most, or students, because like Emily said, they are here now and not going anywhere soon.

  3. Change always involves inevitable push back and the common core is not an exception. I see change positively in most cases with education. The world is changing so how we prepare students for that world must change. A short search on the internet quickly brings up many sides of the issue. Here is a short commentary on the RNC and their statement about the CCS being a straight jacket. http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/2013/the-rnc-on-the-ccssi-omg.html
    What is interesting is some of the opposition is not to the content but it is a complaint over the ‘federal takeover’ of the states eduction departments. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-30/politics/39627200_1_tea-party-groups-common-core-state-standards-governors I personally see nothing wrong with having a national standard. Currently there is a very wide gap in the education among states. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/state-education-rankings-_n_894528.html The emphasis in education for quite a while has been to try to bring up the bottom performers and getting them up to a minimum standard. The US invests quite a bit in special education to try and make sure students are going to attain basic literacy standards by the time they graduate from high school. It is unfortunate that geography plays such a huge role in the education that children receive. I suspect that many people who object to changes believe that their education was fine why change? Change in education is necessary because knowledge is always expanding and if we want future generations to be prepared for careers they will need to have the skills. The national high school graduation rates are shown by state for 2009. http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/index.php?submeasure=36&year=2009&level=nation&mode=graph&state=0 I don’t belief those who don’t graduate lack the ability. If these numbers look discouraging the numbers are significantly better than 100 years previous. In 1920 only 17% of the population graduated from high school. In 1920 child labor was decreasing and the idea of everyone having the access to education was catching on. http://www.historyliteracy.org/download/Sears2.pdf I believe the push for greater understanding is better than a superficial overview. I see the ability to read a s a skill that is very important. The writer Ray Bradbury said that he educated himself by going to the library everyday and reading everything that he could. I believe that the education that you receive in K-12 should just be the beginning.

  4. This topic is something that has been on the mind of a lot of pre-service and current teachers alike. Erin mentioned that in order for there to be any observable change to be seen we must be patient, Melissa also mentioned that we can’t complain about the standards until we see the results. I agree that is the case, but how patient can we or our students afford to be? How much time do we need to wait; a year, 5 years, 10 years? If they don’t work that makes a lot of students who were failed by the system, and what do we do then?
    I agree with Erin’s position of being on the fence, I am too. Valerie Strauss makes a good point, many things occurred during the creation of the standards that should be taken into consideration. These items do not mean that the standards will fail but they are something to consider when evaluating them. She makes three points, few if any teachers were involved in the development process of these standards, much of that development process was done in secret, and all of these standards were written in less than a year. She also brings up the question of content, specifically the limited amount. We already saw a narrowing of curriculum with no child left behind, will these standards, set specifically for math and reading, further distill the curriculum? http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/national-standards/the-problems-with-the-common-c.html I agree with Strauss that none of these points means the standards will fail, but they are something to keep in mind when thinking about them.
    Emily raised the concern of moving the students from their reading level to a frustrational reading level. I agree with both Emily and Erin on this point. Erin states that student difficulties with reading stems from no one explicitly modeling for them what good reading looks like. I believe that students must have a model to consider when reading a difficult text. Kathleen Porter-Magee states that the idea of having students only read at their frustrational level doesn’t make sense, as they will never reach the level of their peers. http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2012/goldilocks-and-the-three-reading-levels.html What the common core attempts to do is allow students to read the same texts as their peers, only with more scaffolding. I’m not sure I agree with her assessment. It seems as though the students are no longer being treated as individuals, but as a unit. It may be argued that the different levels of scaffolding needed for each student is where the differences occur. However if the teacher is constantly building the scaffolding, instead of allowing students to develop their own scaffolding at their own pace, what will happen when the scaffolding is no longer there? Will they still have the skills to build their ability without a teacher in the room to guide them?
    The common core is something that will need to be evaluated as it is producing results, as of right now there is not enough data and the result seems to be a lot of concern and speculation. Some things that should be considered when evaluating the success of the common core is this: why were they developed in the manor they were, will there be a further distilling of curriculum, and what will the effects be for readers who are already struggling below reading level?

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