Teaching Critical Skills – Are Common Core Standards the Answer??

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to:

  • enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs, or
  • enter the workforce.

In essence, the effort has been to provide guidance for states to strengthen previously developed academic content standards and to integrate some of the “critical skills” into the core curriculum – particularly communications (written and oral) and critical thinking skills (information and analysis).

This makes a lot of sense, in the wake of the No Child Left Behind experience, and we will examine the Standards in later postings.

States across the country collaborated with teachers, researchers, and leading experts to design and develop the Common Core State Standards. Each state independently made the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards, beginning in 2010. To date, forty five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the standards while Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia and Puerto Rico have yet to adopt them.

There has been steady progress toward implementation of the standards, and pilot assessment programs are scheduled for 2013-2014 . . . but the debate is heating up to a fever pitch.

While there are pros and cons on both sides regarding the effectiveness of the initiative, what is transpiring reminds me of the debate that raged throughout the 1990’s regarding the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 where opponents of the act strenuously (and successfully) objected to the Federal Government meddling with local curriculum.

Let’s hope that whatever happens, it’s best for our kids.

We’ll follow this effort and see where it goes.



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