The Common Core comprises established standards in the American education system that applies to K-12 students in the United States. These standards delineate the knowledge and skills that learners should acquire in mathematics and English. Currently, over 40 states in the United States have adopted and complied with the standards of the Common Core. Since its establishment in 2010, the Common Core standards changed the way teachers formulate and deliver content to students in different grades. The focus of this paper is to examine the Common Core by explaining its origin, defining expected achievements, evaluating effectiveness, and offering recommendations for improvement.
The need for progressive reforms in the American education system has led to the establishment of Common Core Standards. The journey of the Common Core started in the early 1990s when educationists advocated for the establishment of the national standards for students to learn and perform in each grade, as well as useful assessment guidelines. In 1996, educationists, nation’s governors, and corporate leaders formed Achieve Inc. in a national education summit and tasked it with the responsibilities of improving academic standards, enhancing assessments, and boosting accountability using a bipartisan approach (Phelps, 2018). Subsequently, changing demands in the labor market prompted educationists to review their curriculum and tailor it to prevailing requirements. Following the realization that high school graduates do not meet qualifications for their careers and employment, Achieve advocated for the establishment of rigorous standards. After a series of summits, Achieve managed to established workable standards and valid assessments, which culminated in the inauguration of the American Diploma Project in 2005 (Phelps, 2018). In 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) developed the Common Core standards in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
The Common Core seeks to improve the learning process and outcomes in English and mathematics for students to succeed in their courses, careers, and lives because the previous standards have proved ineffective. In English, the Common Core requires students to perform regular practice in the use of complex texts in their academic work. As previous standards focused on reading and writing skills, the Common Core advances them by wanting students to acquire sophisticated and diverse vocabulary and phrases in their learning (Common Core State Standard Initiative, 2020). These additional knowledge and skills enable students to understand nuances in communication and ensure the appropriate use of words and phrases. Moreover, the Common Core improves critical reading and speaking among learners, unlike the previous standards that focused only on literacy. The Common Core equips students with critical knowledge and skills for them to boost their ability to read and grasp complex information as a source of ideas and arguments. Through English, the Common Core aims to enable learners to build knowledge from non-fiction texts. According to the Common Core State Standard Initiative (2020), the reading content should shift from fiction in traditional standards to non-fiction for learners to build their knowledge effectively.
In mathematics, the Common Core seeks to focus on reduced topics, improve coherence, and boost rigor. Since traditional standards aimed to cover broad topics, the Common Core brings a shift by narrowing on crucial topics and deepening of the understanding among learners (Common Core State Standard Initiative, 2020). The deepening of knowledge and skills create a strong foundation that boosts the resolution of problems in and out of classrooms. As the traditional standards depicted mathematics as incoherent topics, prompts, and tricks, the Common Core intents to creates a coherent progression from topics and grade levels. At the end of every topic, teachers present a real problem for learners to solve it using their mathematical skills. The Common Core also seeks to improve rigor in the teaching and learning process of mathematics. The three key facets of rigor are conceptual understanding of values, procedural skills in calculations, and accurate application of knowledge (Common Core State Standard Initiative, 2020). These facets not only boost rigor in mathematics but also simply their usage in problem-solving.
Evaluation of the Effectiveness
The use of a survey is one of the methods of evaluating the effectiveness of the Common Core. According to Polikoff (2017), the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum is an appropriate evaluation method that assesses alignment teachers to the Common Core and transformation of teaching process over time. These surveys also evaluate the knowledge and skills of teachers, as well as the cognitive demands required in the teaching process. Customized surveys, according to state conditions, aid in the evaluation of the degree of implementation of the Common Core. Tools, such as the Textbook Navigator, Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool (IMET), and Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP), evaluate the learning materials and determine their effectiveness achieving the Common Core standards.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Since there are diverse tools for the creation and evaluation of standards, the development of a comprehensive method is required for consistency and uniformity.
- An extensive campaign is necessary to promote the collaborative efforts of teachers, parents, and education experts in the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards.
- Invest in teachers to empower them in the design and create new strategies for implementing the Common Core standards in response to new challenges.
- The existence of variation in learners, teachers, and regions requires strategies of addressing inequalities created by the Common Core standards.
Common Core State Standard Initiative. (2020). About the standards. Web.
Phelps, R. (2018). The organization named Achieve: Cradle of Common Core cronyism. Nonpartisan Education Review, 14(3), 1-26. Web.
Polikoff. M. S. (2017). Is Common Core “working”? And where does Common Core research go from here? AERA Open, 3(1), 1-6. Web.