The ‘Common Core’ is a set of education standards which has been adopted by nearly every state in the U.S. It was set on the idea that in the place of just memorizing material for tests, students should be able to think critically. It is a wonderful goal. American education has been criticized on the grounds that it does not focus much on comprehension but on rote learning which is a memorization technique based on repetition.
However, the ‘Common Core’ and the examination tests tied to its standards might not let the students from achieving that goal. According to a legislative official in Massachusetts who works on education policy, these rigorous tests might discourage teachers from being innovative and creative and compel them to teach as per the tests. The ‘Common Core’ was created in the year 2009 and is meant to make the playing field even by giving each and every state a universal set of standards to measure learning. The states which implement the standards are given federal grant money to incentivize the program. Massachusetts is held up as a typical example of how the ‘Common Core’ is supposed to be implemented. The state’s education officials have been noting improving reading skills and test scores. But a legislative director for the Massachusetts Senate, Michael Benezra told Business Insider that the tide is turning in the Bay State on both sides of the aisle.
Benezra said that inside the legislature, the general attitude towards the ‘Common Core’ is that it is institutionalized and it is not going anywhere. He has started to see the charter school people and the teacher unions kind of agreeing on the issue that the ‘Common Core’ needs to go. The ‘Common Core’ emphasizes on critical thinking, and the tests are designed in such a manner to test students’ comprehension about how they come to solutions for math problems and what they read. The tests are quite intense. An average student takes eight to ten hours to complete the tests and teachers are under such a lot of pressure to prepare their students to do well that instruction becomes less individualized and critical thinking in students can get hampered. According to Benezra the students are coming out and what they are learning from the tests might not be conventional. So they might know some hidden facts about American history, but they might not know why the revolution started.
The ‘Common Core’ tests could end up defeating the purpose of the standards themselves. Benezra thinks that it would be appropriate for the students to get the big picture because they are required to test and know so much. A remarkable performance on a test requires students to memorize things. One might try to get the students to read more closely and think more critically. At the end when the students take a test, they do not write a long essay where they are forced to think intensely and deeply about the issue.
The thinking behind the new process has been explained by the New York Times. According to this newspaper, it was insufficient for the students to memorize the multiplication tables. They were supposed to demonstrate exactly what five times three meant by shading in squares on a grid. If “fractions” was the topic, they would have to slide around the neon-colored tiles on their desks until they could show that three-quarters was the same as six-eighths. An Atlanta teacher told in June, 2014 that these education standards could also make struggling students feel like defeated failures and give up altogether. She wrote that one thing the ‘Common Core’ curriculum emphasizes and focuses on is reading informational texts. This approach seems really practical. It asks the students to answer text-based questions with evidence from the text and do close reading. However, according to the teacher, her kids are reading so far below grade level that they just shut down and feel defeated.