I’ve been teaching to standards for the entirety of my career in education in different states and different countries. Using the same set of standards helps me to get student and teacher expectations in sync.
In my state and many others, there are concerns about the Common Core implementation. Some concerns are valid, some less so, and some are just ludicrous. I see the good in the Common Core, past all the propaganda and down to the heart of teaching, which is doing our level best to make sure that the students of today will be the best educated citizens of tomorrow.
The Top Ten Reasons Why Common Core is Great
1. No more searching the internet for your state standards. They’ll all be the same. You can type in a standard, or even the number of the standard, and get lots of results for that standard. If you go to your favorite search engine right now and type in a specific standard – even just the numeric prefix – there are multiple relevant hits.
2. Curriculum content will be consistent across states. From a teacher’s perspective, if you move from one state to another, you won’t have to scrap your whole plethora of teaching materials. They’ll still be usable, adhering to the same standards. From a parent’s perspective, your child won’t have to worry about a whole new list of things to learn if you happen to relocate.
3. Curriculum materials will be consistent across all states. Though there is an initial learning curve in the transition to teach with Common Core standards, it will ultimately be helpful. I have had to skip over parts of textbooks and add my own materials because they weren’t truly aligned to my state standards.
4. The standards are explicit. There is nothing more difficult than trying to decipher a standard that does not really tell you what you need to teach. If you’re unsure, someone somewhere has already unpacked them for you, unlike disparate state standards.
5. Parents have the opportunity to be more knowledgeable about the Common Core, which gives them the ability to know what their children are learning and should know. Because the standards are more explicit, parents can follow along and perhaps become more involved in their child’s education.
6. The Common Core standards are designed to integrate more authentic project-based learning, instead of a discrete set of skills. We’ve long known in education that getting students involved in deeper learning is best for both student engagement and retention.
7. The Common Core standards represent higher expectations for all students. We all know about self-fulfilling prophecy, which states that what you expect from students is what they will achieve. While not all students will reach each standard at the same time, they can and will reach the standard, given multiple opportunities at different times. If you believe they can, they will. The standards are raising the expectations of the students, too.
8. The standards were developed with the end in mind. The Common Core Standards lead students in a logical progression of skills development, to be work and college-ready. One of the main complaints from college professors over the past several years has been that English students aren’t ready for college writing. With Common Core, research and essay writing begins in early elementary school and continues each year, spiraling the skills into discrete steps to create effective, thoughtful writers by the end of high school.
9. Common Core Standards also provide for more cross-curricular integration. Not only do Common Core standards require students to do the math, they also require explanations. This leads to departmental teachers working together to ensure student success across all subjects.
10. Increased transparency demystifies the teaching process for the public. No longer are we, as educators, the only ones who know what is being taught in which grades. Everyone can read and understand the standards with whole websites dedicated to putting the Common Core standards in kid-friendly language.
A new set of standards brings new opportunities for us to grow as teachers and to explore how learners actually learn best. By creating helpful and thoughtful dialogue about the standards, we can work together as a nation to see that the full potential of all our students are met. Hopefully, we can embrace these new standards as a path to creating knowledgeable, capable, and creative citizens of the world.
Kimberly Bennett is an educator experienced in both brick-and-mortar and virtual school settings. She teaches Korean students and others throughout the world. She has taught various grades and subjects in the urban public schools of Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee. She is passionate about education and reforming the way American students learn every day. She works for Edcite, Englishunt, and does freelance work for other clients. She enjoys spending time with her family, which includes 2 children, 4 dogs and 2 cats. Just a few more animals, and she’ll be ready to open the zoo that she calls home!