A broad set of educational standards called Common Core have been recently implemented in North Carolina’s public schools. Throughout the month, Women AdvaNCe will take a look at the changes Common Core brings with it and examine what they mean for North Carolina students and their families. We’ll start with an overview of Common Core and delve deeper in the coming weeks.
- What it is: Common Core is a set of language and math curriculum goals that allow students across the country to receive a consistent education, regardless of location. North Carolina is one of 45 states that have implemented the standards, which outline teaching methods and prescribe techniques that are designed to maximize students’ college success and knowledge retention.
What it’s not: A typical misunderstanding of Common Core is that it’s a federally mandated program. Although the federal government has offered incentives to states who implement it, the standards were developed by a group of state governors and participation is optional. Hoping to level the playing field for students across the country, the National Governor’s Association developed the set of research-based standards. In 2010 North Carolina lawmakers voted to transition from the previous set of standards, the Basic Education Plan, to Common Core.
It’s controversial. A number of groups have spoken out against Common Core, claiming that it takes away teachers’ autonomy and places a heavy academic burden on students. Proponents of the plan laud its clear expectations and say it will bring North Carolina students’ performance in line with higher international standards. Support for Common Core is largely a non-partisan issue; leaders of both major political parties have been outspoken in favor of the new standards.
It’s a work in progress. North Carolina implemented Common Core in classrooms during the 2012-2013 school year. Research shows that during the first few years of the new standard, students standardized test scores tend to drop. Currently the schools’ end of grade tests are based on previous curricula, so test scores might not reflect the most recent classroom learning. North Carolina is among the states working to develop assessments that benchmark students’ progress under the new plan.
Although it includes changes, much remains the same. Teachers will now be encouraged to use more non-fiction texts during language arts instruction. In math, students are expected to demonstrate complete mastery of a topic before moving to a new one. Although some of these methods are new, many experts say that classroom time will be spent largely the same as before. Science and history are untouched by the new standards. Many teachers had previously implemented Common Coreideas in their lesson plans.
Parents, how has Common Core changed things in your kids’ classrooms? Are you in favor of the new standards or are you still withholding judgment? What questions would you like to see us answer as we explore this topic?