Patti Carpenter, Kim Cosmas
At State Line Elementary School, students often transfer in from Oregon schools, so I appreciate that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are consistent between states. If a student enters fourth grade as a transfer student from another state, then I know what standards they have mastered in math and English language arts (ELA) at their previous school. Before CCSS, students would transfer with very different math standards that were not as rigorous as California’s. So, by no fault of the student, they needed remediation and tutoring to fill in the gaps in their math knowledge. Hopefully, the CCSS will remedy this situation.
I teach kindergarten through fifth grade, and the CCSS are a great assistance to me in planning instruction for those grade levels because of how the standards are organized and structured. Each ELA and math standard spirals up from the previous grade level, with progressive, incremental changes in what needs to be mastered at each grade level.
There is a huge shift in the CCSS as it relates to the type of text students read. The majority of the reading instruction focuses on nonfiction informational text instead of fiction selections. I want my students to be successful in college level and job-related reading assignments, and being able to comprehend informational text is crucial to their success. So as a teacher of beginning readers, I want to start with the beginning steps of how to read and understand written instructions, scientific information, historical accounts, current events in newspapers or on the Internet, and other nonfiction reading material.
The CCSS requires all teachers to rethink what students need to be successful in the 21st century to be competitive in the world marketplace. I am especially excited about the emphasis placed on students applying mathematical thinking, writing skills and reading skills to real-life problem solving and collaborating with peers to explain, defend and support their thinking.
Collaborative thinking and creative problem solving is what makes many of our industries thrive. I want my students to have a wide range of opportunities to be successful in a changing world, so I am willing to change my teaching to help this happen.
Patti Carpenter, Modoc Teachers Association, teaches grades K-5 at State Line Elementary School.
Would you allow your child to take a prescribed medication that had never been tested, had never been researched, and was created by politicians instead of physicians?
Of course not.
So then why should educators prescribe the Common Core standards as the cure to improving student achievement when the standards have not been researched, are not age-appropriate, and were not created or vetted by educators?
I believe the Common Core standards were not created by educators. The standards were developed by an organization called Achieve, along with the National Governors Association, both generously funded by the Gates Foundation, with almost no contribution from teachers. The majority of the standards were written by David Coleman, who used to work for a test publisher, with input mostly from politicians and business people who did not have a background in education or child development.
Common Core standards supposedly teach critical thinking. But their insistence on students reading historical and other texts in isolation, with no historical background, does not encourage students to develop a lifelong love of reading, which is critical for developing higher-level thinking and analytical skills.
I don’t think the Common Core standards are age-appropriate. No money was spent on the validation of age appropriateness of Common Core standards before they were approved or introduced to our students. Early childhood educators are nearly unanimous in saying that no one who wrote the standards had any expertise in the education of very young children.
The Common Core standards have not been researched or tested. The Common Core standards are hailed as the answer to creating students who are “career and college ready” by the time they graduate high school. Yet the standards have never been subjected to any research studies linking them to readiness of any kind.
If we’ve learned anything at all from the 12 years of No Child Left Behind, it’s that standards and high-stakes testing do not lead to a magical improvement in student achievement. A reasonable person might want to know if the imposition of another set of standards would be able to produce different results.
Kim Cosmas, Mt. Pleasant Education Association, teaches grades 4-5 at Robert Sanders Elementary School in San Jose.
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