And so it happened again. I noticed one of those articles (posted on Facebook) claiming that the Common Core standards are “killing creative teaching,” “stifling our teachers,” and amplifying standardized testing. When it is posted, several others cheer the article on with a, “You betcha!” and I cringe. Then, I feel the need to educate; and since my birth order establishes me as the middle child, yes, I feel the need to “fix” the misperceptions.
So, let’s establish some clarity. The Common Core standards are teaching our students how to think. We are no longer pouring trivial facts (e.g. "In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue...) into our students’ brains. Instead, we are building their knowledge of concepts (e.g. there were explorers who came to America for various reasons...) as well as their capacity to become innovative thinkers and problem solvers. Never before has any set of standards done that for our students. The standards challenge teachers to be creative as they develop engaging lessons to empower students while they learn.
The Common Core standards are not stifling our teachers. One issue U.S. schools have always faced is that there has been very little consistency in what teachers have taught from classroom to classroom and even from state to state. The Common Core standards are a first step in addressing that one, single issue. Teachers have the freedom to implement those standards in the classroom as they wish.
The Common Core standards do not require that standardized testing occur. Assessment is not mentioned as a requirement in the standards. Nope. Not anywhere. Yet, let’s be practical. We do want to know whether or not our students are acquiring skills, retaining information and demonstrating growth as they learn. In other words, we do need to measure our students' progress as they learn. Waiting until the end of the school year to check on their progress is just a little too late. We will need to assess our students multiple times throughout the school year. (After all, when you are trying to lose weight, do you only weigh yourself one time throughout the year? Admit it… I’ll bet you step on that bathroom scale more often than our schools assess our students!)
So, I ask you to read those Common Core articles with a critical eye. Investigate the information you read by researching the author. Who funds the organization that published the article? Is it based upon fact or opinion? Remember, not everything you read on the Internet is true! The Common Core State Standards official website is comprehensive in nature and can answer all of your questions. You can also email me should you have a question. I will do my best to answer your question or find out, should I not know the answer immediately.
Knowledge is power. We are fortunate to have immediate access to information so readily, yet, the information we do access can sometimes lure us into a false sense of knowing. Be deliberate and intentional; fill your brain with researched material based upon the truth.
Planting seeds for the future,
Dr. Frances A. Miller,