“What are Common Core State Standards?” This is a question that is often asked by parents when we mention our learning plans adhere to common core state standards.
According to corestandards.org,
‘The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-one states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core.’
How are the Common Core State Standards tested in California?
They are tested by a summative assessment referred to as CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress). In grades 3-8 and grade 11, summative assessments are administered by schools for ELA and mathematics. This test is administered by the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, which utilizes computer adaptive tests and performance tasks that allow students to show what they know and are able to do.
After researching more about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), below are some pros and cons that have been up for debate:
- CCSS have provided teachers with interim assessment tools to monitor students’ individual progress towards the mastery of CCSS. These optional resources are available to all K-12 teachers in ELA and mathematics.
- CCSS provides a framework for which standards a student should master before entering into the next grade level. Thus, preparing students for college, for careers, and allowing our nation to maintain international competitiveness. According to US News & World Report article, ‘in private (nonprofit) colleges, students from the top fifth of the income distribution take an average of 2.7 remedial classes, while students from the bottom fifth take 1.6. Not only do these students arrive at college academically behind, many who require remedial education will not attain a degree at all. The most effective way to improve achievement is to utilize educational standards.’
- Common Core State Standards are internationally benchmarked against top-performing countries in English Language Arts and Math. The CCSS have allowed states to compare standardized test scores accurately on a national and global perspective. Prior to the CCSS, each state adopted their own set of standards, which made it difficult to compare accurate results. According to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, in 2011 the average United States fourth-grade reading score was 541, which makes the United States rank eleventh out of fifty countries ranked in that category. Singapore ranks first, with a score of 606. According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, in 2011 the average United States fourth-grade reading score was 556, which makes the United States ranks sixth out of forty-nine participating countries. Hong Kong ranks first, with a score of 571. The average score for all countries was 500. CCSS provides the United States with the data necessary to see how we can improve our educational framework to remain economically competitive.
- The CCSS were adopted without any field tests to see how they would affect students, teachers, or schools. Research Professor of Education and historian of education, Diane Ravitch, goes into further detail in her article here.
- CCSS has forced younger students to learn more at a quicker pace. Skills that may have been taught in first grade, are now being taught in Kindergarten. More emphasis is being placed on teaching children rigorous content at an earlier age.
- A teacher’s evaluation is based on student’s standardized test scores. If a student has a learning disability, there is no equivalent CAASPP test provided to them and their score is still reflected in their teacher’s overall evaluation. For students who opt out of participating in taking the CAASPP, the state risks losing significant federal funding. According to the California Department of Education, a 95% participation rate for CAASPP testing is required. According to edsource.org, ‘In 2015, California received a letter warning that a “condition” would be placed on its Title I funding for low-income students based on preliminary information showing the statewide participation was below 95 percentbut final data put the state’s rate at 97%.’
While INTELLI-G understands both the pros and cons of the Common Core Standards, we choose to customize our lesson plans according to the Common Core Standards because most schools have adopted them. We want to help support our fellow teachers by having a cohesive learning plan, where we align our shared goals for teacher, parent, and student. Having a shared goal, will ultimately benefit each child on their path to academic success in the long run.