Common Core: 5 myths and misunderstandings

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Carrie Laudie | Staff Writer | @carrielaudie


When the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics and English literacy were released on June 2, 2010 they became a hotly debated topic. There has been a lot of information going around the internet about the frustration parents, and some teachers are feeling about its implementation in school.

The real goal of CCSS is to develop critical thinkers, to improve education in the United States, and to prepare students for success in college and in their future careers.

Some of the most popular myths about CCSS are:

1. “The CCSS curriculum/textbooks are really bad.”

The Common Core State Standards are exactly that – standards. CCSS doesn’t actually have a particular textbook, or even curriculum, that teachers are supposed to use, it just lists the skills and information that students should be able to understand in each grade level. It is generally up to the local school board to decide what text to adopt. The purpose of CCSS was to help students become more college and career ready.

Each individual state has had standards for years, but some were more rigorous than others. With the national adoption of CCSS the purpose was to have a consistent set of standards from state to state.

2. “The CCSS will bring state standards down.”

The experts and educators who had input on CCSS actually looked at international education standards, as well as the skills important for students to enter college with. These new standards actually don’t lower the standards of any states, and raise the standards of even the most rigorous states.

3. “Teachers are being told what to teach and how to teach it.”

With CCSS, teachers are instructed on what things are appropriate for students to learn at each grade level. It is still up to the teacher how to present the material. Educators actually have a lot more freedom with CCSS then they did with No Child Left Behind.

“One of the reasons I’m glad Utah opted in to the CCSS is because of the wealth of resources it has opened up to us. Having some consistency between states has allowed educators across our social media-loving country to share ideas, lesson plans, strategies, and other resources. We have so much more access to really great stuff that can be easily implemented into our teaching than we did before. We are also able to have a broader variety of publishers to buy from.

“I sincerely believe that most teachers have and will continue teaching with the same basic methods and practices they used before the standards changed. Teachers who taught straight from a textbook will continue to do so. Teachers, who “differentiated”, meaning they vary the learning style, difficulty level, and amount of work required based on individual student needs, will continue to do so.  There is a greater focus on learning how to learn, how to navigate and employ non-fiction texts as well as other media resources-which skills I believe will only become more in demand in our advancing society,” said Ashley Hix, a UVU alum and first grade school teacher in Alpine School District.

4.      “Because of (CCSS), the government is collecting tons of private information about me and my kids.”

Correct – the government is collecting a ton of information students and parents, and they have been for a while now.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with CCSS.  An unfortunate naming coincidence seems to be at the root of a lot of this confusion – since the Common Core of Data is the federal government program where a lot of school and student information is collected and housed.  But, in spite of the similar names, there is no relationship whatsoever between the Common Core of Data and the Common Core State Standards, and nothing about CCSS adoption mandates collection of personal data about students or families” said Lisa Argyle, Ph.D. candidate in political science at UC Santa Barbara.

And the biggest argument against CCSS:

5.      “The math is just so confusing. The way I learned it was good enough for me.”

They are absolutely right; the math is confusing to those who haven’t been taught math in the same way. The reasoning behind the new approach to math is to give students a deeper understanding of math, to understand how the numbers work and why they work the way they do. This is a different approach then learning the algorithms that generations in the past have done.

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