Common Core Critique

The other day in class, we began discussing the Common Core and how it was affecting the students. Common Core is an optional initiative that is supposed to help students throughout the country stay on the same page in their learning. According to the Common Core Website, “the Common Core State Standards provide clear and consistent learning goals to help prepare students for college, career, and life.” In order to provide these consistent learning goals, the initiative clearly states the specific things that students are supposed to learn from kindergarten to twelfth grade.  For example, kindergarteners are expected to “with prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.”

In a promotional video on the Common Core website, the narrator explains that these standards are supposed to keep students across the country learning the same things. The video gave the example that if a young boy moved across the country, his new school would be teaching him the same standards that his old school was teaching him.

On the surface, the Common Core seems to be an ideal system. It is an optional program and it is supposed to help create a standard of learning across the country. There are huge disparities in school and what children learn in each grade across the country. A national standard of learning might create a level playing field for students to learn across the country. In addition, this initiative is optional, so no states are required to use it.

Although this program appears to be a great solution to the learning disparities that can clearly be seen throughout the country, there are a lot of issues also associated with this initiative. For example, Common Core claims to be an optional program, meaning that states are not required to use the program in their schools. However, what the website fails to explain is that states would lose federal funding if they refused to implement this initiative. Because of this threat of losing funding, the majority of states have adopted the Common Core.

In addition, although the initiative lists standards that students are required to have learned at the end of each grade, there are no specifics. With the kindergarten example stated earlier in this post, how does a teacher evaluate a five-year old’s ability to retell a familiar story? Does the student need to remember that there were just three little pigs or does the student have to remember the specific different building materials that they made their houses out of? The program does not appear to provide this information which would make it difficult to enforce this consistency throughout the country that the promotional video described.

Because of these issues, I am not sure if Common Core is the best solution for the growing problems facing the US education system. I believe that the intentions behind the program were noble and a great ideal to strive for, but I do not think that these issues presented with the program should be overlooked. I believe that a minimum national curriculum is needed within the United States to help combat the increasing issues facing the system, but I am not sure if Common Core is the way to combat it.

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One Response to Common Core Critique

  1. Eric says:

    It is incorrect to state that states would lose funding if they did not adopt CCSS. It is true that states would lose points on their applications for Race to the Top grant funding (, but that is very different from having federal money withdrawn from states. It is also true that 40+ states adopted CCSS in the run up to Race to the Top. However, once RTTT grants were awarded, most states remained committed to CCSS. Jack Jennings asserts that RTTT gave governors cover to adopt CCSS and the “feds made me do it” argument is just a convenience for these governors when they run into opposition. Good post!


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