The Common Core State Standards, a set of guidelines designed to regulate what students learn each year in school, have helped some and frustrated others. Some districts are lagging in implementing the standards, some teachers say applying the standards is challenging and others are concerned about the length of time students will take to complete the required tests.
The Center on Education Policy
tracks the progress of the Common Core and recently reported that "the future of the Common Core remains uncertain at this important juncture" because many districts aren't yet ready to fully implement the standards, Catherine Gewertz writes for Education Week
. Diane Stark Rentner, the CEP's deputy director, said more time is required for everyone involved to feel prepared to move forward.
According to a Center on Education Policy survey
, of the superintendents surveyed, about one-third said the math and English/language arts standards would be applied this year, and 30 percent said that they would fully implement those standards in the 2015-2016 school year or later or that they weren't certain when they'd implement the standards.
Daniel D. Curry, the superintendent of the 16,000-student Calvert County schools in Maryland said: "The heavy lift has been developing our own units of study, involving teachers in the summer, after school and on weekends, keeping some core parts that have been there, but restructuring them, because there is no commercial product that really gets this done. Our teachers are worn out." (Read more
"In a survey unwritten by the children's publisher Scholastic
and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
, both Common Core supporters," 79 percent of teachers report feeling "very" or "somewhat" prepared to teach according to the standards—up from 71 percent last year, Greg Toppo writes for USA Today
. However, 81 percent say the standards are "challenging" to apply, up from 73 percent last year. "It's a big shift in the way that kids learn and the way that teachers teach, so it's going ot take time for kids to kind of shift away from sitting in a row of desks and listening to a teacher lecture and taking notes and doing fill-in-the-blank," said Kathryn Casteel, a math and science teacher at W.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, N.C. "It's much more inquiry-based, and that's very new to the kids."
conducted the survey in July, polling 1,676 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public school teachers in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and all of the participants had answered questions for a similar survey last year, Toppo writes. Fewer than half the teachers reported that the standards will be "positive" for most students. However, of the small group of teachers who have been teaching with the standards for over a year, most are supportive. "The more teachers get into the Common Core, the more they believe in it," said Margery Mayer, president of Scholastic Education. "But the more they understand it, the more they concede there are challenges." (Read more
One of the main concerns with the new standards is the length of time students will take to finish the required tests. According to the guidelines released by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
, third graders will need 9 3/4 hours for testing; fourth and fifth graders, 10 hours; sixth through eighth graders, 10 3/4 hours; and ninth through twelfth graders, 11 1/4 hours. As a result of the pushback from some states, "the analysis now shows that 42 percent of K-12 students are expected to take either PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests," Valerie Strauss writes for The Washington Post
Andrew Milton, an eighth-grade English teacher at Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, Wash., wrote about the issue on his Speaking of Education
blog in a post called "Logistical Train Wreck," Strauss writes. Milton writes that the standards would require 8,000 hours collectively for the 750 students at his middle school. He explains that trying to schedule all of the testing using their 125 computers would be very difficult and time-consuming.
"This will be a logistical nightmare—figuring out which 125 students are going on which days, disrupting teachers who testing students are out of class, finding space for kids who take longer than expected, finding places for the students displaced from their computer lab classes and more that I'm sure I haven't thought of," Milton writes. (Read more