At Imagine Learning, we're quite familiar with the variety of opinions surrounding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Although our own programs are aligned with multiple state standards (and not just the CCSS), we know what most educators are thinking on the subject. Here, we share a few of our findings.
What the Data Say
In August of 2015 a nationwide PDK/Gallup poll revealed that a majority of respondents oppose the teaching of Common Core. Interestingly, black and Hispanic respondents showed a lower level of opposition, at just 35 and 50 percent respectively.
In an earlier (2013) poll by PDK/Gallup, 72 percent of those polled indicated that they trust public school educators. But the same respondents also assume most educators oppose the CCSS, a view not aligned with the data.
In reality, 75 percent of educators support CCSS standards.
Arguments Against Common Core
In most cases, Common Core opponents are much more vocal in their dissent than are those favoring the standards.
By and large, most opponents to the CCSS share the following concerns:
- Lack of control - higher governmental bureaucracy takes over, dictating outcomes and taking away control from local schools.
- Implementation problems - Efforts are poorly explained, ineptly managed, or too time-consuming to implement fully.
- Inflexibility - Standards are either too high for struggling and/or special needs students; OR, the standards are too low to suit high-performing schools.
- Performance pressure - CCSS may tempt some educators to 'teach to the test,' and/or prompt additional assessments during the year (taking away valuable instruction time).
Are these concerns well-founded, or based on misinformation? Let's find out.
Fact or Fiction?
As is the case with most large-scale educational initiatives, it can be challenging to sort the facts from the fiction. These questions may help.
Q: Will the CCSS take away control from local school districts? A: The short answer is "no." The idea of federal government owning the CCSS is fiction.
Remember, the Common Core began as as a state-led initiative, and so it remains today. Also, because the Common Core is a set of goals rather than a curriculum, each district superintendent can meet with principals and teachers to decide how to implement those goals.
Q: Is the CCSS difficult to implement? A: Yes and no. For districts that lack adequate resources, implementation continues to be a challenge. Adequate funding is a critical piece of the CCSS puzzle, so if the funding doesn't meet the demands, many schools can't fully implement their goals.
Q: Does the CCSS address the needs of all students? A: Yes. Because each state can decide the details of CCSS implementation, districts can adapt its goals to the needs of all students. That said, high-needs students may require intervention to help them become successful.
Q: Will CCSS cause more performance pressure on districts/schools/teachers/students? A: Yes and no. Truthfully, each district, school, educator, and student may answer this question differently. Most educators want to help children learn. Because of this overarching goal, the majority of teachers and leaders will teach with learning in mind, not test results.
Of course, if the CCSS are poorly implemented and managed, such a circumstance can create more pressure for teachers and students alike. The key is successful implementation.
Imagine Learning, Common Core, and State Standards
Imagine Learning has always cared about kids from our beginnings right up to today. In order to meet children's needs, we take into account their varied circumstances.
Some children think differently than their classroom companions. They may mix up letters as they read--or perhaps they speak a different language.
The fact is, certain school districts are disadvantaged because of local socio-economic concerns. Many schools enroll a high population of English language and dual-language learners. Educators face more challenges than ever, and whatever standards they implement, they need help in achieving those standards.
Imagine Learning believes that kids come first, but that state standards are also important. That's why we include a wide array of activities that cater not only to kids' individual needs, but also to state standards from TEKS to CCSS.
Whether you are an advocate or an opponent of the Common Core, we invite you to work together and stay passionate about your cause.
Then, go out and do what you do best: educate children uncommonly well.
Now that's a goal we can all believe in.
For further information on the Common Core State Standards, see this list of Frequently Asked Questions. And be sure to visit our blog again for even more educational ideas.