By now, all but five states (Alaska, Texas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia) have adopted what’s known as Common Core State Standards for math and English, a common agreement of what students in the United States should know and be able to do in those subjects.
A Learning Matters blog post features differing views of what this major development might mean for the U.S. educational system — and whether the current system (each state having its own separate set of standards) really does lack focus. I thought you might find it interesting, and I’m curious to know what you’ve heard about this initiative and what questions you have about how it will work, in practice.
You can find a national PTA guide on the standards here, in English and Spanish. The website explains that each state is developing its own timeline for putting them into place. It might be years away in California, according to this FAQ published last year by the state Department of Education.
You know a topic is controversial when the proponents’ website includes a “Myths vs. Facts” section. The Common Core supporters emphasize that matters of curriculum and teaching materials will be left up to states and districts and say that “…since this work began, there has been an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards.”
Last week, I talked to Harold Asturias from UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science about the new math standards. He said that new, online assessments being developed by the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, with federal funding, would place a much greater emphasis (as much as 60 percent) on reasoning and complex problem-solving in the upper grades. The current math exams, by contrast, consist of multiple choice questions.
Do you think the initiative will further the goal of preparing students for college and/or the workforce? What will it take for it to work?