Are the Expectations the Same in Smyrna and Singapore? Common Core in the Classroom

February 21st, 2012

Category: News

In 2006, Vision 2015 recommended that “our standards [become] as challenging as those that the highest-performing countries expect their students to meet,” and four years later Delaware adopted the Common Core State Standards along with 44 other states and D.C.  The promise of these standards is their ability to set a common, higher bar for all states, which would eliminate Missouri having a different definition of success relative to Massachusetts.  They are meant to be more challenging, asking students to problem solve and think critically rather than simply focus on memorization. And given the international benchmarking built into their design, they would in theory put our students on a level playing field with the children of the world’s highest performing countries.

If Common Core (CC) is implemented in the way it is intended, the impact on American education will be significant—a fact not lost on many, including those in the private sector who are getting behind Common Core in a big way. Consider for example, General Electric’s $18 million dollar grant to support nationwide implementation.

The potential impact is great, but we’re not there yet. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is how Common Core will play out in real classrooms. The new report  by the Center on Education Policy cites what could be considered realistic expectations for implementation—by 2014-1015 at the earliest. The good news is that Delaware is getting a handle on things: the state introduced 9,000 teachers to CC training and the Delaware PTA is utilizing a $40,000 Gates Foundation mini-grant to help parents understand the nuts and bolts of the standards and what it means for their children. But when it comes to making it work in the classroom, we’ll need to use our best collective thinking. Resources such as Common Core 360 from the School Improvement Network and the video series produced by the Hunt Institute and the Council of Chief State School Officers help. But while the national debate continues, I would encourage educators to share any resources that have been helpful in CC implementation,   as well as any questions and concerns. This will be a complex transition with implications for what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed. Our foundation believes in the potential power of this work and would welcome a chance to learn from and support it in the classroom.

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Paul Herdman



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