Shocking news: In classrooms and school staff meetings across the country, teachers and school administrators are sharing enthusiasm over new educational standards known as the Common Core State Standards.
That’s because the Common Core State Standards were designed with one singular intention: to raise the bar for students graduating from U.S. high schools. The world marketplace is changing, and many in the education and business communities realized that our students were falling behind other nations on internationally benchmarked tests. A course change was needed to ensure all students graduated from high school ready to tackle postsecondary coursework or a job.
Because education is a state issue, the nation’s governors and state school officers got together to lead the charge to improve student achievement. They knew it had to be done in a way that was informed by the experts – teachers, parents and education policy leaders – and with debate and deliberation. They also knew it had to be done in a way that allowed each state to decide what made most sense for its students, while at the same time ensuring that a university or employer would know that whether they were recruiting a person from Oregon or Ohio, that person would have received the same baseline of knowledge as the other.
After years of work and with the input of a wide-range of stakeholders – including thousands of teachers across the country – a set of standards were developed for K-12 English language arts and mathematics. The result are clear benchmarks that describe the knowledge and skills a student needs at the end of each grade level to move to the next and, ultimately, succeed after high school –whether in college or the workplace.
“The new Common Core State Standards provide students with relevant and rigorous experiences that result in a deeper understanding of core knowledge. Gone are the days of rote memorization. We now have the opportunity to help our students in a myriad of ways,” said Courtney Overman, a 4th grade teacher in the Southwestern City Schools, just outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Ms. Overman is a prime example of a generation of teachers who, despite loud cries from outside the classroom, support the Common Core State Standards. A recent poll conducted by one of the nation’s largest education associations found that nearly 75 percent of teachers favor the standards. While Facebook and Twitter accounts pulse with negativity and false statements about the Common Core State Standards, teachers are busy painting a brighter picture for our children as they embrace and use the standards on the front lines.
Of course with change comes uncertainty, and with new standards the level of uncertainty among some has been understandably high. There is much that can be done to address the uncertainty. Teachers have rightfully expressed concern with how they are being trained on the new standards. They want to make sure they are properly prepared to translate the standards to the classroom. That is a reasonable concern, and we ought to make sure teachers have every resource they need. They are the lynchpin in the classroom, and they deserve our full support.
In the end, teachers want what we all want: to see students walk away from high school with a diploma that’s backed up by skills and knowledge to succeed in college or career. That should be a goal we can all rally behind.