“Common Core” provides needed educational measures

Daniel Fernandez

The Common Core is a recent effort of the Obama administration to shift American education toward critical thinking and problem solving. Proponents of the Common Core argue that it reflects “the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” The quality of the actual education remains to be seen, however the merit of the Common Core is in the standardization it provides.

The Common Core seeks to ensure that all students are given an equal opportunity to a “complete” education. By ensuring that the same common curriculum is taught coast to coast, students are all assessed in the same manner and given proper recognition for their academic achievement. Administrators will also be able to assess the progress of their teachers‘ classes against that of other schools in the district, state and country. Through this data, teachers will be able to adjust their teaching styles and ultimately create a more effective learning environment for all students.

While all states currently issue standardized tests, they all employ different standards, diluting the collective data when evaluated on a national level. When Kentucky introduced the Common Core this year, it saw nearly a 33 percent drop in the number of elementary and middle school students previously considered “proficient” by state standards. Due to this discrepancy in proficiency standards, many teachers thought they were doing an adequate job teaching when, in fact, their practices were not thorough enough. If the United States hopes to become an educational leader, it is crucial that all teachers understand what is expected of their students.

 

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This standardization will also increase transparency: College admission officers will spend less time accounting for the discrepancies in education between different schools. During the admissions process, they will be able to focus on the differences between the individuals.

While Common Core would decrease versatility and local control over the curriculum, the standardization would show which teachers are capable of doing their jobs and which teachers aren’t. These teachers are right to be worried that their current credentials might be obsolete, but the Common Core’s renovation of the existing system will bring about a much-needed redesign of the teaching approach.

Critics of the Common Core worry about the logistics of the transition itself more than the quality of the education, but that is only because no judgments can be made on the curriculum until it has been implemented. Standardization makes it possible to view the efficacy of the Common Core and make changes if necessary, especially while standards are still so new. Critics also worry about the proliferated standardized testing that will accompany the institution, but standardized testing was already in existence prior to the establishment of the Common Core. The only difference is that, now, it will actually be standardized.

For the moment, the Common Core’s best asset is its equality. Before we take steps to improve the quality of education being imparted to future generations, we must assess the damage. Setting standards will make it easier to measure the progress — or the lack thereof — being made. And that’s the first step in the effort to elevate America’s education system as we move forward.