The Troubles of Common Core

Posted in Learning

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been a very controversial issue within Albany, statewide, and nationally. CCSS are a set of standards for math and English K-12 instruction created by a federal group of stakeholders that have been adopted by 45 of 50 states.

Some believe these more rigorous standards are the solution to our inability to compete on an international education level, but others think they are unhelpful or even detrimental to student success.

When talking to students about Common Core, I found a pattern amongst their beliefs: California students didn’t know what Common Core was supposed to look like, nor were they sure if it was incorporated into their curriculum at all.

*Web_Common Core-1

Group work in math classes is central to Common Core.

When asked to describe Common Core fully implemented, one student responded that it depends on school budget; lower income schools have worksheets, while higher income schools have computers.

Similarly, students at Bright Star Charter Academy, Oakland High School, Westview High School, High Tech LA and many others have reported no observable application of Common Core in their English classes. This needs to change.

The California Association of Student Councils and the Student Advisory Board on Education believes that the administration of Common Core remains incomplete in many school districts.

We wish to alleviate these misconceptions, owing to the fact that in schools where Common Core has been successfully implemented, students have reported that they are able to think more critically and that the curriculum is challenging and fun to do. Through Common Core curriculum, students engage in projects, lectures, and utilizing the new technology that is available.

These standards have great potential, but their integration is not complete. A team of diverse stakeholders was created to create an implementation plan in 2012 and was then disbanded when their work was complete. That plan was put into effect, but its instructions only last until November of 2015. We now see that this plan is complete, but acceptance of the standards in public schools is not. This issue is extremely apparent within Albany High School as well.

After a discussion with the Albany High Site Council, the local problem with CCSS has become clear: students are being left in the dark when it comes to the standards they are being held accountable for the material that encompasses it.

AHS math teacher Suzanne Young has reported a (so far) successful rolling Common Core implementation plan within the math department. Likewise, AHS English teacher Evan Green voiced that the new standards for english aren’t very different from the ones already being taught.

According to these teachers and other teachers and administrators in the Site Council Committee, Common Core has begun to be implemented very successfully.*Web_Common Core-2

This does not hold true with Albany High students.

Senior Madison Hazen stated, “I wouldn’t have even known it was a thing except my mom is an educator so she tells me about it.”

Junior Remy Supar said, “I don’t even know what Common Core is supposed to look like, especially in my English class. The transparency among students just isn’t there.”

Likewise, Freshman Sarah Ng has very strong feelings against Common Core in her math class. She states, “Teachers used to tell us how to do the problems and now we have to figure out how to do them ourselves. It is easier because it is slower but I only really learn at the end when teachers talk about the problems that are wrong.” Sarah does not like CCSS in math and doesn’t feel it is helping nor is it making her a better thinker.

Common Core at Albany High is a set of standards which are still being tested. Teachers think this method will benefit students and report already seeing the positive effects of Common Core, but whether or not students are receptive to this is something that will be uncovered as Common Core continues to be implemented at Albany High School.