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3 Facts About Common Core

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 09:41 AM

Opinions about Common Core educational standards developed by the states get loud and often angry very quickly in any discussion.

On Twitter, the ironic hashtag #ThanksCommonCore "thanks" the standards usually in association with someone doing something stupid.

For many in the educational field who helped develop the Common Core standards, it is frustrating that so many are talking about and criticizing the standards when the facts are often presented in accurately in the media.

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Understanding the thinking behind the Common Core State Standards is challenging, partly because it involves learning about learning — taking on such questions as "What is the best way for kids to learn math that will make them competitive in the world?"

Here are three facts about Common Core commonly treated in the media to get you started:

1. Not written in secret: "The standards were not written in secret, as critics would later contend, or rushed through overnight. But it's fair to say that in Common Core's early stages, the nation's focus was elsewhere. The Wall Street bailout, stimulus, and Affordable Care Act all commanded far more attention than a wonky initiative by America's governors," wrote Mother Jones of the controversy.

"It wasn't until late 2011, when states began to move forward with the implementation of Common Core, that parents and political rabble-rousers began to take note. Once they did, Common Core fast became a tea party cause célèbre," Mother Jones added.

It was in 2007 that the National Governors' Association began to push for an initiative that would make educational standards consistent among the states, which was the beginning of what would become Common Core, according to U.S. News.

The initial task force working toward creating common standards released a report at the end of 2008.

2. It is not part of "No Child Left Behind:" The CCSS is not part of "No Child Left Behind," a much-criticized educational program implemented on a federal level. "The Common Core is a state‐led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind or any other federal initiative,” according to the CCSS website.

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"The federal government played no role in the development of the Common Core. State adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory."

Confusion on this issue, according to U.S. News & World Reports, is because of a federal initiative called Race to the Top, which awarded $4 billion in federal grants to states that made commitments to education reform.

"Race to the Top applicants who agreed to adopt the Common Core standards had a small number of points (40 out of 500) added to their score, since the Core standards align with Race to the Top’s goals," reports U.S. News.

"There were several myths that kept rising to the top," Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice president of education and workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, told US News.

Common Core is not a federal program. "If that was the case the Chamber wouldn't support it," she said.

3. CCSS de-emphasizes literature: One common complaint about CCSS is that it de-emphasizes literature in favor of informational texts. The theory behind focusing more on critical and analytical reading skills is because most students will spend their lives reading informational texts, U.S. News said.

"The Common Core mandates that by Grade 12, 70 percent of reading assignments across all subjects use informational texts and 30 percent use literary ones. So while the change may be most noticeable in English Language Arts courses, it applies to subjects like history and science as well," the news organization reported. Literature is still an important part of the curriculum.

Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University and a member of a Common Core K-12 Standards Development Team, told U.S. News that students needs to read classic literary and historical texts. Teachers have the latitude to include those readings, although some teachers believe students relate better to modern materials are don't assign them.

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Opinions about Common Core educational standards developed by the states get loud and often angry very quickly in any discussion.
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Tuesday, 05 May 2015 09:41 AM
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