by Tina Tomkins, Screenflex

The Common Core StandardsCommon Core State Standards Initiative seeks to bring diverse curriculum into one common set of standards for schools nation-wide. The goal is to “raise standards, graduation requirements, improve assessments and strengthen accountability in all 50 states”. Incorporating Common Core Standards into our curriculum as well as our nation’s standardized testing could have monumental effects on students and teachers across the country. We hope that the goal for creating a common core of standards for every state will benefit all students but many are skeptical, and the impact of these changes will be revealed in due time.

This year, 20% of our Illinois ISAT tests include Common Core Standards. The future impact of adopting these new standards is unknown. While standardized testing evolves to include the full implementation of Common Core Standards in 2014, we all hope for a positive outcome for all of our students.

Hopeful Benefits of The Common Core Standards

Parents, teachers and administrators await the outcome of adopting Common Core Standards across the country and hope for positive results. Here are some hopeful benefits of Common Core:

1. Supporters hope to prepare all students for a higher level of education therefore enabling students to become globally competitive.

2. Supporters of the Common Core Standards feel that once incorporated, schools will be able to offer stability for the mobile student. Students who move often will be able to pick up where they left off instead of trying to play catch up or repeating old material. No matter where a student lives, they will be taught these common core standards.

3. The Common Core Standards might allow for comparing scores accurately. Previously, each state had a separate set of standards which made comparing test scores difficult.

4. The Common Core Standards might lead to the development of a higher level of thinking. Students will need to give an answer as well as explain how they arrived at that answer.

5. The Common Core Standards could bring teachers together while they teach the same curriculum.

Concerns of Implementing Common Core Standards

Creating a uniform national standard raises concerns for teachers and parents across the country. Implementing a set of standards in order to enable all students the same opportunity to learn sounds promising, however the assumption that all students should be able to learn and perform the same is an impossibility. Here are some concerns of Common Core Standards:

1. The Common Core Standards may cause good teachers to find other career options. Teachers will need to adjust the way they teach. Teachers will have to teach specifically to these standards such as the way to do a math problem. Standardized testing will require the student to answer correctly as well as show the common core calculation. A teacher who has had success in the past may find Common Core frustrating.

2. The Common Core does not apply to students with special needs.

3. The funds to update technology to accommodate Common Core Standards might not be available. Time and money to get students up to speed on the new requirements might run out before Common Core is fully implemented in 2014.

4. Common core standards will eliminate remedial courses to provide all students with the same core set of standards. Essentially, some think that Common Core Standards will “dumb down” our accelerated students and at the same time, give an unfair disadvantage to low-performing students.

5. Curriculum may be “watered down” in some states where they have held more difficult standards in past years, slowing academic improvement and negatively impacting the high achieving student.

A new study researches the negative changes in math scores after the district policy required that all students take Algebra I. This study reports that in a classroom where there is a mix of low performing and high performing students, high achieving students suffered a slower rate of academic improvement, while low-achieving students did not show a benefit. What the study found, is that though the low-achieving students did complete their course work, their grades declined and failure rates increased. Unfortunately those students were no more likely to enter college even though they were able to complete the course.

Only time will tell whether adopting the Common Core Standards will revolutionize education positively for our students. The impact and the future of our students will not be known for several years, but we hope that the move to adopt these Common Core Standards will be a positive one.

Tina regularly writes about room dividers, utilizing space efficiently, and office fun at Screenflex Room Dividers. You can also find her on Screenflex’s Facebook page, Google Plus, and Twitter.