Well, I had pushed aside the idea of writing some blogs about the Common Core Curriculum Standards, but more and more incidents continue to push it back to the forefront of my mind that I think it needs to be done. The amount of misinformation and misconceptions that continue to circulate around the CCCS is frustrating to no end. Therefore, be prepared for a series of several posts explaining why I support the adoption of the CCCS.
Now, before I begin, I will say that I cannot speak to the way individual school systems implement the CCCS in their schools. I know personally of some systems that are creating issues through awkward or badly structured implementation. This is not a reflection on the standards themselves, but rather on the legislators and administrators who are creating the implementation stages.
I am also very much against the continuation of high-stakes testing as a part of evaluation. This is not a criticism of the CCCS, though, as some popularly-circulating blog posts are trying to make it. High-stakes testing is a product of No Child Left Behind, first and foremost, and legislators who feel they can use a simplistic metric to evaluate the success of a complicated profession. That said, the PARCC test seems to be a significant improvement over the previous iterations of tests by being spaced out into several segments throughout the year rather than one high-stress week near the end, and by requiring skill application and writing rather than merely information recall and multiple-choice guessing. Nevertheless, there are far better and more accurate ways to evaluate both student skill-mastery and educator effectiveness than tying funding and employment to the results of testing.
My final disclaimer/criticism concerns ready-made booklets. Don’t get me wrong–I am not issuing a blanket criticism of CCCS-aligned curriculum and workbooks altogether. I am criticizing the plethora of booklets and worksheet collections that rush to publication simply to pander to administrative fears that their educators will be unable to apply the CCCS to whatever curricula they are already using. This causes confusion, it undermines the professional standing of educators, and it creates situations where educators are forced into using sub-par materials because administrators require them to do so. Yes, there are some curricula that will not work with the CCCS, but by and large, those are not strong curricula in the first place. I can think of one right now, very popular among home and Christian schools, that will not blend well with the CCCS. It has nothing to do with “worldview” or Science or religious stance, however, and everything to do with the fact that said curriculum espouses outdated pedagogical methods and avoids teaching any type of critical thinking skills or strong writing techniques.
Okay. Disclaimers and recognition of some faults out of the way, onward I shall go.