Trends in Curriculum and Instruction: Common Core Standards

Common Core standards mandate the skills and knowledge students should acquire throughout their education before they enroll in four-year colleges and workforce training programs. The implementation of the standards has ignited a fierce debate between advocates of regimented education and opponents who push for more fluid, individualized curriculum and instruction.

Educators can expect years, perhaps decades, to pass before they accurately assess the impact of Common Core standards. However, the transition into a national collection of education standards will almost certainly revolutionize the education system. Whether the transformation turns out positive or negative depends on whom you consult.

Advocates of common core standards applaud the international benchmark system that ties education standards to the ever-evolving education standards of the most proficient countries. The new standards provide a uniform method for comparing state scores, instead of each state devising its own measuring system.

Theoretically, at least, the standards increase the discipline required to succeed in the classroom on the part of the student, thus better preparing them for the rigors of college. Some of the increased discipline involves the development of critical thinking skills that help students tackle standardized test questions. Many teachers have emphasized the advantages of monitoring student performance throughout the entire school year instead of at intermittent points of the school year that typically involve final examinations or standardized tests.

Opponents of Common Core standards align the education metrics with many of the policies implemented by the No Child Left Behind Act. They claim the new standards continue down the road of rote memorization, instead of refocusing teaching on students and not tests.

Common Core standards, opponents suggest, could present a tremendously difficult transition that disrupts student-learning processes. Much of the disruption concerns the speed at which students must pick up curriculum in order to proceed to the next grade level. Opponents also attack the vague language written throughout the standards, especially when it involves measuring student success. Perhaps the strongest argument against Common Core standards pertains to the lack of awareness many parents have of the new standards, which some educators claim is the fault of those shaping the Common Core. With parents relatively unaware of the standards by which their children will be taught, some educators claim the Common Core will hurt parent involvement more than it helps.

The Bottom Line

Common Core standards are becoming more and more deeply entrenched as the new method of assessing student and teacher performance. Whether educators agree or disagree, this uniform approach is a concept every teacher is certainly aware of, and taking steps to meet in their own classrooms. The trend, however, deserves a great deal of examination, and whether or not it will have a positive or negative impact remains to be seen.

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