Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Friday, August 2, 2013

Two articles I read yesterday made me sit back and think. One discussed perspectives on the Common Core rollout and how some media has reported that the CCSS movement is unraveling (which the article pointed out quite nicely is entirely untrue). The other article focused on teacher preparedness for the Common Core rollout and how some states are also pushing out new evaluation systems (which is actually a little nuts to add so much at one time). These teachers are, according to the article, going a little bonkers over the level of stress (humor added by me).

At first glance, these two divergently different articles have very little in common, but a second closer reading reveals a common (core) issue that seems to arise frequently: there are a LOT of misconceptions about what the Common Core is and is not. As with almost all common misunderstandings, there is always a small grain of truth wrapped in a larger shell of bias and bad information.

First, the Common Core was not promulgated by the Federal government. The standards were developed by a coalition of state governors and state superintendents. No state was forced to join the Common Core or any of the two testing consortiums that are being funded by the Department of Education.

Second, the Common Core is actually good for education because it makes the expectations the same (or very similar) across state borders. I grew up as an Army brat and I would be the first to tell you that I had vastly dissimilar learning experiences in Oklahoma, Maryland, West Germany (US Army school), and California.

Another common misperception is that teachers are simply overwhelmed by the new standards, and this is also not quite true. There is some apprehension among most teachers that they will not be quite prepared for the Common Core, but most of the educators I talk to tell me that they are excited because the new standards make things more simple in terms of understanding where a student should have been and where he or she is going in the future. The CCSS standards are very well aligned around a set of anchor standards. Are teachers wary? Of course, this is new and we don't all know where it will lead, however, I firmly believe this will lead to more innovation and less lock-step standardized nonsense (i.e. down with the bubble tests).

Is the Common Core crazy? Maybe it is crazy but only in the sense that it is crazy to expect that students across the nation are learning the same thing.

Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me


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