A couple of weeks ago I posted the question, “What is Common Core? Is it good or bad?” on my personal Facebook page and within minutes my wall had exploded with opinions, videos, articles, and more. Some were totally against it, some loved it. After the 3rd comment I stopped reading and decided that I needed to do some unbiased research, before I read anymore comments! It was a 2 week journey and I wanted to share with you what I have learned–just in case you are researching too! *The opinions expressed below are Cj’s (writer and contributor at I Love My Kids blog) Not the blog owner or other blogger’s views. They are also, just that, my views. The facts presented below were all found on http://www.corestandards.org/. I wanted to make a post that cleared up some of the confusion I found myself in. Hope this is helpful. (It is quite long-but at the very end I posted a summary paragraph-just in case you are in a rush)
(Note: This article has been updated as I continue to learn more about common core-any new information is posted in green)
SIMPLE Definition of Common Core Standards
Common Core Standards essentially are a “list” of what your child will learn in each grade level. That is it! They call it Common Core because if all the states (currently 45 states have adopted it) it would be common and each state would be teaching the same things in each grade level. With that said I have a personal story to share with you:
Over Christmas break when I was in 3rd grade my family moved from sunny Las Vegas to freezing middle of no where eastern Montana. On my first day of 3rd grade in my new town/state I quickly realized that all the students in Mrs. Mandigo’s class were writing perfect cursive. In MT students learned cursive in 2nd grade-they had been writing for over a year. In Nevada they learned it after Christmas break in 3rd grade. I was behind. Still to this day (and I am in my 30’s now) my cursive is STILL terrible and incorrect. Here is a picture of me when I was in 3rd grade holding my new baby sister!
In this situation, Common Core would have been helpful for me. No matter where I moved to or from, I wouldn’t be behind. Another reason Common Core was implemented is because when recent High School graduates, when testing for placement at college, would be placed in a basic math class (classes that were High School level). So Common Core Standards are aimed at college readiness. They said, at college level the students should be HERE. So in 12th grade they should be HERE. So in 11th grade they should learn this, this and this. ALL the way down to Kindergarten. The Common Core Standards are just that, standards-or a guideline of what should be taught in each grade.
I also found out that before Common Core was implemented in MT my school had it’s own set of standards, they weren’t “common” with other states but they were “common” with other schools within my state. (I didn’t even know this!) Standards have been part of our schools for decades. So I decided I didn’t need to be worried about all of the sudden having standards because it wasn’t really all of the sudden.
While I was researching I saw TONS of terrible videos showing the insides of text books for 1st and 2nd graders. I couldn’t BELIEVE what was written in them. As soon as I saw them I was sure that I “hated” Common Core for putting things like that into the minds of my little girls! After some research I realized that Common Core does NOT publish ANY workbooks, textbooks, any kind of curriculum, etc. All of those videos I watched enraged me (THIS ONE SPECIFICALLY at minute 1:45)…but they got me angry at the WRONG thing. I realized that ANY publisher can smack the words “Common Core Aligned” and teach/say whatever they want. Here is a perfect example.
For 1st graders a Common Core standard is:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
Please note: it doesn’t say HOW to teach it, it just says what your 1st grader should be able to do at the end of 1st grade.
A textbook publisher gets to decide how they want it taught in THEIR book. You can read under the green underlined section it says, “…look at the emotional words and phrases the writer used.”
You can see the standard is being taught…but guess how this publisher is teaching my 6 year old to recognize those words? With sentences like this:
Oh my word, if my child came home and said this sentence to me….there would be trouble! This workbook is NOT put out by Common Core. There is NO Common Core Standard that says teach your students to disrespect their parents by using emotional words. This could be taught a totally different way, it doesn’t have to be negative like this publisher chose to do! I have since learned that ONE publishing company which happens to be the one pictured above holds 75% of the textbook market. These books may be hard to avoid–so watch your children’s books closely and PLEASE make it known your feelings to your local school board.
I hope that makes sense. It isn’t Common Core I should be angry at, it is this stinkin’ publisher! I am in Montana and the selection of the curriculum (curriculum meaning-text books, workbooks, etc) and supporting materials is a local decision that is approved by local school boards. Each State is different, so you may need to research your own state out. To avoid this terrible book from ever getting into my 1st grader’s hands is to be active in my own community and be aware of what is approved for my school!
Now that we all understand that all of these terrible workbooks aren’t really from Common Core, let’s address a couple other concerns that had me worried.
Are student test results really tied to funding and teacher’s jobs?
Before I researched this out I heard: 1) Schools only have 1 way to teach these kids these standards. 2) If they want $$/jobs the students have to perform well on these “high stakes” tests. Don’t those sound awful? After reading through the standards, I realized it isn’t dictated by Common Core–it is at a state or local level depending on your state’s legislature. These high stake tests were introduced with “No Child Left Behind” –it’s been going on for YEARS-I am totally against these high stake tests. Most children don’t perform well in those situations and guess who ties the funding to the results….you guessed it, your STATE legislature! The high stake tests are NOT part of Common Core AND I recommend gathering your friends and calling your legislator today about getting rid of those high stake tests! Especially if they are tied to funding like they are in many states!
What is this “New Math” in Common Core that says if a child says 2+2=5 they are right if they can prove it?
We all know that 2+2=4. Why? Because my 1st grader teacher told me so and I memorized it–honestly, that is how I do know! After reading through the new Common Core Standards carefully this “new math” wants the children to not just “know” the answer but understand why 2+2=4. That may seem silly and basic at this point, BUT as your student gets farther along in school and the math gets harder, it is smarter to “understand” why you do what you do in math reasoning. Here is a common core math standard for 2nd graders:
- CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.9 Explain why addition and subtraction strategies work, using place value and the properties of operations.1
That standard does NOT say if you think 2+2=5 then you are right if you can explain it. It says, explain why 2+2 makes sense to equal 4. I think this is VERY misunderstood and it isn’t true that a child can say a wrong answer and be right.
The “old math” that you and I were taught in school was based on algorithms (or a “formula” designed to figure out the answer). Common Core instead of teaching 1 algorithm (like you and I learned-which I do think is easier) will teach a few different methods to do a math problem. I WISH I could find the video I watched about this that made it so much more understandable for me…I will keep looking.
The terms for things are changing as well. My 2nd grader came home and told me they started a “re-grouping” chapter in math- I said what on EARTH is re-grouping? Turns out it is the same as carrying the 1 when subtracting. I do find this annoying that everything is being re-defined, it makes me less able to help my daughter if she has questions.
Do they really take a bunch of personal information and report it to the Federal Government?
Nope! Common Core are just a “list” of what you should learn in each grade. They do NOT take personal information at all. Although, there are some states (like NY & IL) that have implemented a computer system for their Common Core. All the data is stored by a company and that information is not protected. I am thankful that I am in MT and still have student privacy protocol. The privacy is determined at a state level. So if you are concerned about student information CALL you Legislator and ask for it to be protected!
Are they really not teaching cursive anymore?
I heard that this new Common Core won’t teach cursive anymore…that made me sad. Until I realized that “teach cursive” wasn’t in several states standards before Common Core was implemented. It was just assumed that you learned it in those states. Your local leaders can adjust the Common Core standards to fit your community as needed/desired! Up to 15% can be changed.
Ahhhhh this is so much to take in-Can you just summarize it?
Oh, I totally understand! I was there 2 weeks ago and have DUG my heels into this topic. To Summarize, my research on Common Core Standards have brought me to these conclusions:
- Common Core Standards are VERY misunderstood!
- It is NOT workbooks, textbooks that are trying to socialize and indoctrinate my children (they don’t make these or dictate how it is to be taught), it is a “list” of what my child should learn in each grade to be ready to enter college level classes after high school graduation. The publisher can “write” Common Core approved on the cover without any reviews.
- They do NOT collect personal information to give to the government.
- Almost EVERYTHING is decided at a local level–get involved with your school board, they are the ones that choose which textbooks make it into your children’s hands!
- Common Core does NOT have special or required testing. These “high stake” tests have been going on for years and are dictated by your state legislature. If these tests are tied to the teacher’s job or the schools funding that is a choice that your state government has made, not Common Core.
- Your local leaders can change/edit/add/remove ANYTHING they want from these Common Core Standards (like adding cursive teaching into them)
- Definitions in math are changing as well as implementing different methods to teach how to “solve” the problem.
- I honestly think a “set standard” for all states make sense….with that said, I do feel there is an underlying issue of “giving power” to the federal government by accepting these standards. When we conform to what the rest of the country is doing, accept federal funds, etc. then we have to do what we are told to do. That is when the states lose power of what is best for their local people. After gathering information for the last several months I’ve decided that although the idea of it all is great and I am supportive of that aspect, I am NOT supportive of having the decision power taken away from our local leaders who know what is best for our area.
As I mentioned above, this is what I came up with when I researched this out unbiased. You can choose what you want to choose to feel about this matter. I know this is a VERY touchy subject and was nervous to post on the blog for fear of offending someone, but I wish that when I was researching someone would have had a summary like this for me to read!
Now I want you to form your own opinion. Go right now and look at the Math Standards for the grade your child/grandchild is in. Click the Grade (on left column). Then click the “Introduction” for that grade. Save yourself a little confusing reading and go straight to the “overview” (just by scrolling down a bit). This will tell you what your child should learn that school year. That is ALL Common Core Standards are. A LIST of what a child should learn in a grade.
I HOPE that this has been helpful for you! I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a blog post comment below!
Disclosure: NO one asked me to post this, but I have been working hard on trying to understand it and wanted to share. The views expressed above are Cj’s views, not this blog or any other person associated with this blog!
What is Common Core, is it Good or Bad?