20 reforms: no. 17: Common Core

Common Core.

This popular new approach is a set of K – 12 academic benchmarks that have been adopted by 45 states. Some folks had the impression that Common Core would demand college prep work for all students in high school. Therefore, my objection is that only 25% to 30% of students are capable and motivated to do well at that academic level.

These reformers refuse to understand that there are drastic differences in student’s abilities. The majority of students should be in career studies and shouldn’t be subjected to high-stakes academic testing.

And perhaps Common Core doesn’t represent college prep work, after all. Professors from Stanford University and the University of Arkansas agree that children educated under Common Core will not be prepared to do competitive university work. Rather, it is geared for community college studies. Sandra Stotsky, a former member of Common Core’s validation committee, is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. She says the basic mission of Common Core is to provide students with enough mathematics to make them ready for a non-selective college –– not for STEM.

Stotsky concludes that Common Core aims too low in mathematics and common core deficiencies also plague its English standards. She believes it does not prepare students for college majors in mathematics, science, engineering and technology- dependent fields. Sandra Stotsky, “Common Core Doesn’t Add Up to STEM Success,” The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2014.

Diane Ravitch, well-known columnist and researcher, seems to agree with Stotsky. In a Twitter message to me on March 17, 2014, Ravitch complained that Common Core was not written by educators. She also believes it hasn’t been thoroughly tested and “needs a major fix.”

What to believe? If it is truly geared for high-level university academics, it will be over the heads of 65% to 70% of our students. If it is geared for community college, then the top 30% to 35% with high academic ability will be bored and frustrated and not well prepared for a rigorous four-year university education. This program is a good example of what’s wrong with our present reforms. It buys into the myths that all kids are the same and all should go to college.

What’s problematic with common core is that it is common. There is no such thing as a common child. All are different and all have unique characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Gerald V. Bradley, “Common Concern for the Common Core,” The Irish Rover, October 10, 2013.elephant 003

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