“One thing that the Common Core addresses is quality versus quantity,” said Dr. Nicholas Jankoviak, coordinator of federal programs for Paragould School District. “With Arkansas Frameworks we’re talking about student learning expectations, with Common Core, we’re talking about standards.” Jankoviak said Common Core would also better prepare students for college and career readiness and would provide a national standard for students who may move from one state to another. “So what you have is a child from Michigan coming to Arkansas and in Michigan they have a set of standards they’re working with,” Jankoviak said. “Then when they move to Arkansas, they find that it is much more rigorous here. So that child in Michigan was not adequately prepared for what takes place in Arkansas.”
“. . . the program will be tougher and more comprehensive, and is expected to better prepare students for life beyond the district. “It’s a more rigorous program, and the standards are designed so all students, when they graduate from high school, will be college and career ready,” Smith said. “People around the state are very excited about this because it is a strategic commitment to raising the standards and bringing consistency to the educational program.”
(Both mentioned by Catherine Gewertz in Curriculum Matters at EdWeek.)
Rarely do I see anyone write about or hear anyone talk about the Common Core Standards who has read through not just the standards themselves, but all the ancillary materials.
Do the Common Core Standards actually address quality over quantity? No, not really. Does alignment with the Common Core Standards guarantee a more rigorous or even just a more consistent educational program? No, not at all. That would be impossible.
It’s all in the implementation. Even the best, most comprehensive standards are meaningless unless sound instruction lays a solid foundation and sound assessments are used to evaluate progress. A thoughtful approach to curriculum and assessment design could address quality over quantity. A haphazard, just-get-it-done approach will not.
As far as rigor goes, I’m thinking that one can’t transform oneself from TV-watching, chip-eating, pajama-wearing couch sloth into superfit triathlete overnight. It’s a mistake to demand rigor simply so we can say that our programs for students are rigorous. It’s a mistake with serious consequences for the students most at risk. We need to keep our intention in front of us at all times. In this case, our intention may be to make sure that students “will be college and career ready.”
To make that happen, we have to determine where students are in their learning and identify where we think they should be. Then we figure out which are the gaps that prevent them from attaining that destination and think about strategies–as many and as varied as possible– to bring students from where they are to where they should be.
Every teacher, school administrator, district superintendent, and school board member should read the Common Core Standards just to be informed, just to know what the conversation should be about, just to be able to review curriculum and assessment materials. Parents should, too.