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Understanding the Common Core Standards

Historically,  states have had different standards for what students are expected to learn. This can create a disadvantage for some students as they head to college, start their first post-high school job, or even switch schools. The common core standards establish certain criteria which are expected of students. Although they have not all implemented them yet, initially 45 states as well as Washington D.C. and four U.S. territories adopted all the common core standards. Minnesota adopted the English Language Arts standards but not the Mathematics standards.

Despite the initial positive views on common core standards, in recent months, several states have introduced some legislation to cancel their plans to adopt the common core standards. One of the main concerns is money. For example, in Michigan, both the House and Senate have approve budgets prohibiting spending for the standards. In Indiana, lawmakers have decided to study the potential cost of implementing the standards before starting to use the standards statewide.

Money is a legitimate concern. Yes, initially adopting new standards may cost teachers and districts more money as new materials may need to be purchased, but that is part of why many states are slowly implementing the standards. Any changes to make children’s educations better are going to cost money, but with the common core standards, the benefits, including having students who are better prepared for college and helping students to think more critically, outweigh the costs.  

The English Language Arts standards include standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and media and technology. By concentrating on both old skills, like developing their writing abilities, and twenty-first century media skills, students can be better prepared to succeed in their futures. These standards help to keep students from poorer communities on the same educational level as their peers going to richer schools.

The Mathematics standards help to ensure students nationally are working on the same level of mathematics at the same age. The standards show where students should be at specific grade levels. For example, ideally 8th graders should be ready to start Algebra. These standards also focus on how students can use their math skills in real world settings.

Despite what some people may think, the common core standards still allow states, districts, schools, and even specific teachers leeway on how they teach standards. For example, teachers can continue to pick the specific texts students read. Exact writing topics and other classroom work is not specified by the common core standards. Although there are tests offered by both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium targeted at helping to test the common core standards, states are welcome to continue using their own assessments to test students’ comprehension of the materials. More than anything, these standards are simply an outline of what skills students should have at certain points in their educations. 

At LearningStation, we want to help school districts and teachers better prepare their students for the future through helping them achieve the common core standards. View our website to learn more about the services we offer.

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