Letter | Fear of Common Core standards misplaced

01/30/2014 4:11 PM

01/30/2014 4:13 PM

Being an educator, I am always excited and interested when someone voices their opinion concerning what is going on in our schools. I would like to address the opinion of Patricia Milley as published in the Jan. 21 issue of The Sun News.

First, the Common Core Standards (only English-Language Arts and Math at this time) were requested over many years by educators and the public alike due to perceived and real differences in what was taught and what was assessed. Our previous state standards were indeed challenging for students, but the individual state assessments were just that – individual and not easily compared.

Some states, South Carolina among them, developed very stringent and difficult tests, while other states developed less difficult ones thus making state-by-state comparisons akin to comparing apples to oranges. Now with Common Core, states will be administering similar tests from two consortia – PARCC and Smarter Balance. These consortia are made up of educators, researchers, education commissioners and policymakers.

Although the Common Core assessments will most likely not be identical state to state, they will assess the same content and set of skills, which will make for more equitable comparisons. This year, 2013-2014, is called a “bridge year” meaning that some of the former state standards and some of the new Common Core standards will be assessed. Again, these standards are only being implemented in math and English-Language Arts.

So what are some facts about Common Core Standards?

Standards (any standards) are a set of goals that help teachers ensure their students have the skills required to be successful. This is the goal of past standards and the Common Core. Standards establish what students will learn, but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Schools and teachers decide how to best help students achieve.

Common Care standards were adopted by individual states and are not a requirement of the federal government. The standards are not a curriculum, but a set of goals. Again, teachers make the decisions about how to best deliver content to students and use a myriad of instructional techniques. The primary focus of the Common Core Standards is to prepare students for higher education and an advanced work force which will require students to be competent in the areas of technology, communication, analyzing data, formulating strategies, and research.

The Common Core standards were not developed and handed down by the federal government. Educators and governors at the state level worked on the standards. The Common Core initiative will remain a state-led effort.

Standards are not instructional materials. A worksheet or a book does not represent the standards. The Common Core standards are simply a list of skills and content. Students are not handed these standards, but teachers develop appropriate instructional activities to teach he standards. All subjects have had a list of such skills since the Basic Skills Assessment Program (BSAP) was implemented in the 80s. The new set of skills is simply updated to align with the needs of the 21st century.

The Common Core English-Language Arts Standards do not eliminate literature and the classics. In addition to studying traditional topics, students will be learning how to read informational texts and analyze, interpret, and communicate information in addition to studying grammar, literature, main idea, and other important language arts skills. century workplace.

I am not sure why Ms. Milley feels that the school board issues of governance and speaking is somehow a product of adopting Common Core Standards or how children are taught that all countries are equal. I cannot directly address what happens in a kindergarten classroom, but did speak to a friend who teaches kindergarten. She informed me that she does not require her students to sit more than 15 minutes at a time and that the 5 year olds are engaged in a variety of social and educational activities throughout the day.

As an experienced middle school teacher I can speak to how classrooms are run at my school. First, I would like to dispel the myth that children today are disrespectful, made to sit for long periods of time, and difficult to control. First, I am against the grouping of individuals and assigning a particular trait or behavior to that group. For the most part, my students today are better behaved, have a stronger work ethic, and are more respectful to their peers and adults than they were 30, 20, and even 10 years ago.

I do agree that there are exceptions to this, but the exceptions are few. My students typically move from station to station during a class period with some working with technology, some developing a presentation, and some working with me in a small group. At times, I do bring the whole class together for instruction, but this type of instruction is only a small part of the class.

I would like to encourage everyone to do some research and find out for themselves what Common Core Standards are and how they are being implemented. One should not believe what anyone says about Common Core as well as other topics without researching and finding out exactly what is going on in our schools for themselves. Be aware of many misconceptions that exist. I am sure any school in this district would welcome visitors and answer any questions posed by concerned citizens about any topic.

The Horry County Schools web site also has information about Common Core standards as well as a variety of other topics including outstanding achievements. I have tried to be as accurate as I can about the information in this letter. Any mistakes are mine alone and do not reflect on my school or the school district.

The writer is a National Board-Certified teacher at North Myrtle Beach Middle School.

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