Common Core: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders / Guest Post by Eric Shellan of Stand for Children

Hello Readers,

Today we are posting about the Common Core State Standards that are being adopted across the United States, on a state by state basis.  A number of misconceptions have emerged in recent months about Common Core.  Today’s post comes from Eric Shellan of Stand for Children, http://stand.org/, an education advocacy group that WTIA works with on K-12 policy. 

Improving K-12 and STEM education in particular is one of WTIA’s top advocacy priorities.  One of the biggest problems in K-12 education is low standards, and differing standards across states.  A big concern is that Common Core is taking away “local control”.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  School districts are largely unqualified to set academic standards, develop curriculum and devise assessments and evaluations.

Another misconception that these are “federal” standards coming from Washington, D.C.  Again, another falsehood.  The National Governor’s Association is the group that came up with the Common Core standards and developed them.  Washington state was a participating state.

Below is Eric’s post.

“Common education standards are essential for producing the educated work force America needs to remain globally competitive. This voluntary, state-led effort will help ensure that all students can receive the college- and career-ready, world-class education they deserve, no matter where they live.” – Craig Barrett, Former CEO and Chair of the Board, Intel Corporation 

Three-quarters of American students are not prepared for college, and it’s not their fault. 

They were taught using outdated standards from the 1970s, covering too many topics in too little time, in a system where each state set its own standards. 

According to the Fordham Institute, “some of [the standards] were world-class rigorous, some downright embarrassing.” Washington’s learning standards were somewhere in the middle, but the needs of our employers and our economy were outpacing our education’s system’s ability to keep up. 

The Common Core fixes that. 

Common Core learning standards sets high expectations in math and English for all of our students, in all of our K-12 public schools. And the standards are internationally benchmarked so that we can measure our success compared to other countries, as well as other states. 

Led by state schools chiefs and governors, with input from thousands of local teachers and educators, Common Core replaces a patchwork of mismatched expectations with clear, consistent learning goals for every student. 

The Common Core is not a curriculum. Not every child will read the same books in school, but every child will be expected to understand and analyze complex literature. Not every child will learn math the same way, but every child will know the fundamentals of algebra by the end of 8th grade. 

“It’s about where we want students to be at the end of a year or at the end of class,” says National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau. “It’s not about how to get there, it’s about where they need to be.” 

Mr. Charbonneau, who teaches in Zillah, Washington, supports Common Core for the same reason that many teachers do: it sets fewer, clearer, higher expectations for children. It puts the art back into teaching by allowing more time to dive deeper into topics and giving teachers more flexibility in how they achieve those goals. 

The Common Core standards are designed to ensure real understanding – students will go deeper into fewer topics, so they master the material instead of memorizing. At the same time, learning is more hands-on with a focus on what students will use in real life, and the skills build upon one another as a child advances to the next grade. 

For example, kindergarteners used to be able to fulfill New York’s math standards by memorizing a list of numbers. With the Common Core’s focus on comprehensive learning, kindergarteners will not only learn to list a number like “fourteen,” but also understand that it is written “14” and represents a group of 14 objects. 

This deeper understanding, which starts in kindergarten and builds a scaffolding of learning throughout a child’s academic career, puts our kids on track to graduate from high school prepared for whatever their next step may be – in college, career and life. 

The WTIA and the state’s tech industry is filled with innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders and are all too aware of the skills gap and the need for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The Common Core standards are a big step in the right direction, and soon, Washington will have the opportunity to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, which will do for science what the Common Core does for English and math. 

“If America aspires to lead the world in innovation and invention, and in research and industry, it must develop an education system that matches or exceeds our global competitors,” write the editors of The Olympian. 

“Common Core is designed to prepare the next generation of Americans to lead in the 21st-century.” 

That’s exactly what today’s students and all employers, not just tech, need. 

Learn more about the Common Core at www.get2core.org