Teacher talk: Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are one of the largest educational initiatives ever enacted in the United States. Over the past five years, 45 states across the nation have fully adopted the CCSS, which clearly define what should be taught at each grade level. The purpose of Common Core is to outfit each state with the same concise, clear learning standards, keeping individuals at each grade level on the same academic track and reducing variation from state to state. There was also a need for all states to strive towards higher standards for K-12 students. Educational experts, teachers, parents, school administrators, state leaders and researchers from multiple states collaborated on the creation of the Common Core standards.
Before this initiative, each state had its own set of academic standards. Students that moved from one state to another, or even to a different school district within the same state, would be held to different standards. Today, in the 45 states that have fully adopted the CCSS, students will potentially learn the same principles between kindergarten and high school graduation.
The focus of these standards is to make sure students learn information that is relevant to the real world. Students should be engaged in learning experiences that contain critical thinking and communication skills. There is an emphasis on getting students to ask questions and making them question their thinking through a variety of methods. Rather than simply learning more at each grade level, students have the opportunity to delve deeper into their studies, which provides for a richer learning environment. The Common Core currently contains standards for both mathematics and language arts.
Adopting the Common Core does not mean that each state must teach the exact same curriculum. Although many states have implemented or are in the process of implementing the CCSS, each district and school will take its own approach to helping their students reach each of the standards.
As a teacher, I find the Common Core to be helpful. Knowing that the school at which I teach is being held to the same standards as schools in New York or California or even Hawaii gives me the sense that we are all striving to teach students exactly what they need to know and understand by the time they graduate.
About the Author:
Christi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor's degree in elementary education, a master's degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.