Will Common Core Standards Save K-12 Education?

Right now the United States is in the midst of a radical change in K-12 education. A recent poll shows that even if you have a child in school, you may not realize that it’s happening.

During President Barack Obama’s first term, the Department of Education created a contest called Race to the Top which was a way to encourage schools to find innovative approaches to learning and improving performance in K-12. The contest awarded grants to states and local districts whose programs demonstrated focus on certain educational policies, such as turning around low performing schools and evaluation of teacher and principal performance. Initial participation in the program temporarily waived certain benchmarks required by No Child Left Behind.

A legacy of President George W. Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 linked federal funding to public schools’ performance, which was determined by scores achieved on standardized tests administered as early as the second grade. Critics have argued the law’s focus on test scores to determine proficiency has led to an educational system focused on memorization and testing proficiency, instead of equipping students with knowledge they need to be successful. Furthermore, the law did little to account for the inconsistency in resources available to schools.

In 2010, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers took input from teachers, parents and experts in an effort to get an idea of what students needed to know before graduating high school in order to be prepared for college and future careers. More than 60 percent of first year students enrolling in college are not prepared for post-secondary study, even if they qualify for enrollment. They spend their early years taking remedial courses in English and mathematics, possibly prolonging their college education as these courses do not count for credit.

With this in mind, they created the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The uniformed standards are designed to make sure that students reach certain critical benchmarks from K-12. The idea is that every student, regardless of which state or district they graduate from, will be ready for college without the need of remedial courses. The standards were not developed or approved by the Obama administration or the Department of Education, but the Race to the Top grant program does award points for adoption of the standards.

As a result, 45 states have implemented Common Core as part of their educational revamping. The only states not participating are Texas, Alaska, Nebraska and Virginia, with Minnesota only adopting the English standards.

The standards promote English and mathematics proficiency, with a focus on critical thinking and reasoning.  Schools and teachers are free to create their own methods and materials of reaching the benchmarks, though recommendations, such as reading lists, are provided which focus on the desired skill set. The Common Core Standards were built on standards already in place in many states and designed to give teachers time to develop teaching methods and students time to master the key conceptual understandings and procedures.

While teachers have greater freedom to teach the subject areas, the new focus may require a change in the way they teach. For example, just remembering the plot of a story does not develop critical thinking. Instead, a teacher may require students to write an email from the point of view of one of the characters and then later explain why they think the character would say what they said, or even if they would use those words. Perhaps a student will be required to solve a math problem and explain why they chose that method, regardless if the answer is correct.

The point of such lessons is to have the students think about what they are doing and be able to defend their position. The focus isn’t on right or wrong answers.

Needless to say, the standards have their detractors. Thus far the criticism, largely from Republican politicians, has focused on the incorrect belief that the standards are a nationalization of education, a violation of state sovereignty. The standards are not a national requirement and a state’s adoption of them is purely voluntary. The unevenness in previous standards has also created situations where students are required to learn things sooner than previously required (i.e., subtraction now begins in kindergarten).

Parents have complained that it is unfair to have students in later grades be required to reach benchmarks for which their education thus far has not prepared them. In response, many states have been using a phased-in approach, starting with the lower grades and adding the new standards progressively each year. Additionally, current teaching materials and textbooks haven’t caught up with the new methods and standards, forcing them to work with others online to develop lessons plans and making use of the recommendations provided by the Common Core website.

It is too early to tell if the new standards are working. Current testing materials are not designed to incorporate the new focuses, resulting in a noticeable drop in test scores among early adopters of Common Core. Testing tools have been developed by Common Core and will be available starting with the 2014-2015 school year.

The political backlash and implementation challenges notwithstanding, there is much agreement between educators and experts agree that there is great value in a foundation of knowledge for students to be prepared for further educational pursuits and careers.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Mark Bill
Past Member 2 years ago

Have big thanks! That you presented this blog for us full of great knowledge, features, important points that nobody can say wrong.

Mapmy Study
Mapmy Study3 years ago

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Jennifer L.
Past Member 4 years ago

This isn't even about education. It's about the UN Agenda 21 and a ONE WORLD GOVT.

Gary Hansen
Gary Hansen4 years ago

It is important to start from the basics and make sure that along with following the common core standards of k-12 education students enrolled for either online studies and diploma programs for children are provided with an acquaintance and connectivity with the contemporary standards and modes of educational operations that can help them in developing their future in an effective manner http://www.gulfhighered.com/high-school-diploma

Michael H.
Michael Hays4 years ago

This article is seriously misleading in suggesting that opposition to the CCSS comes largely from Republican and is based on political considerations. Diane Ravitch is one of many educators who oppose them. I am another. I have written two blogs on their conceptual and their practical failures from an educational perspective on my website . In the index, you will find them for 2013, in September and November. Please comment or reply by email. Thank you.

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter4 years ago

The severity of the pending or suspected future requirements will determine the incentive.
Funding for this federal program will come from an increase in income taxes coupled with the elimination of local school property taxes. With a nationwide budget for education, centralized purchasing, better utilization of computers and the internet and reduction in the administrative staff by the elimination of multiple local school boards will provide an overall saving per household and per student.
Each graduate of their program will earn a Bachelor degree in their chosen career field or a Certificate of Competency in their chosen vocation. Education is our future. Without a highly educated populace, we will be a second world country within a generation.

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter4 years ago

On-line tutorials and tutors will be available for all students 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
All teachers will participate in a national certification program corresponding to grade level and subject matter of their expertise. After five years and every five years there after the teacher will be removed from all teaching responsibilities and required to enroll into a one-year re-certification course. This will give the teacher an opportunity either to re-certify in their current area of expertise or to certify in a new area.
Organized in geographical regions, school district will be independent of city, county or state boundaries. Each region will be lead by a Regional Education Manager who is responsible for the success of each student in his or her region. Two advisory boards will provide input to the Regional Manager. The Community Advisory Board will consist of a cross section of the community selected for their diversity, education and occupation. The second advisory board would consist of business leaders, people that can provide information on global business trends.
The Federal government will provide incentives to those students pursuing careers in areas were shortages currently exist or are predicted to exist in the future. These incentives could be but not limited to free post baccalaureate tuition, tax-free income for a period or a guaranteed minimum income. The severity of the pending or suspected future requi

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter4 years ago

Career awareness will be an integral part of the educational program from the beginning.
During their 12th year of education, around the age of 15, students will have the opportunity to make career choices and select a program of course that will provide them with the core education necessary for their chosen occupation. Specialty schools for differ career paths will be available thorough out the country. To attend these specialty schools could require students to live away from home at the government’s expense.
An educational incentive program will help to provide motivation to our students. Incentives or rewards for achieving quarterly benchmarks, program completion at all instructional levels and for special projects that aid their communities. Incentive will be age group appropriate. There will also be family level incentives, which will provide rewards for family achievements, which can include yet not limited too; a parent receiving a GED, children completing educational level program in less than the assign time or the number of books read and reported by both the parent and the student.
The school year will be 12 months, not all of it in a classroom or in a supervised setting. Internship and community service will be an integral part of every student’s education. The school week would be flexible, it will be determined by the amount of time it takes individual students to complete assignments. On-line tutorials and tutors wil

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter4 years ago

In order to maintain our position in the world we must re-invent our educational system, with the understanding that the new system must be able to address the needs of the least prepared or supported of our children. Simply stating that we need more parent involvement in their children’s education does not make parents get involved. No more than saying that a flu vaccination will prevent the flu will make people get the shot.

Manufacturing and some service jobs will never return to America as long as wages, the cost of transport and communications are low. Jobs in the future will be intellectual based. These jobs will require an education that is first in the world. Education is as strategically important to our future as our economy, since education will determine the economy of our future.

I propose a federal educational system totally funded by the federal government. Curriculum committees would provide instructional material for all grade levels. These committees would consist of educational and subject matter experts, with industry and community involvement. Real time on-line, revisions would keep the curricula current to reflect new information as it becomes available.

Structured education will begin as early as three month old for those families that choose this option. Mandatory education will begin for all at the age of three and continue until the satisfactory completion of the student’s personalized program at the age of 20. Career awareness wil