By Renée Smith | j&R Tutoring Academy of Indiana
I really did not want to venture into the churning waters of the Common Core Standards debate, but the discussion has become such a hot topic that I can no longer avoid it.
Our local paper publishes an article, letter to the editor, op-ed, or all three every week. The Internet is replete with commentary, and now there are television ads in support.
I first became aware of the CCS while studying for my Master of Arts degree in education. The members of my classes were about evenly split regarding them. What I did not realize was that my state (Indiana) had already adopted CCS for gradual implementation beginning with the early elementary grades.
Since Indiana’s own standards had been lauded by educators nationwide, this change to CCS did not make sense. Of course, the Superintendent of Public Instruction who pushed them through without input from educators had to find a new job following the 2012 election.
Now the public debate is ongoing.
At first glance these national standards would appear to be a great idea. What could possibly be wrong with having all states require the same knowledge from all students at the same point in their education? I completed my MA through an online course of study, and was privileged to have people from all over the country in my classes. Many of these teachers regularly complained that when new students moved into their classes, the students were behind.
They believed that the CCS would fix this problem. My problem with those complaints was that none of the teachers ever stated that a new student was ahead! Now I just do not accept that all move-in students regardless of location were behind. I posed this observation in an online discussion, and no one responded!
The other undeniable fact regarding elementary students is that their development is very irregular! No two students develop the same skills at the same rate or time. My very pragmatic brain could not marry the facts that 1) maturity and learning develop at different rates, and 2) the CCS expect all students to learn the same things at the same time.
In a perfect world these so-called national standards would be fine. We do not have a perfect world nor will we. And quite frankly, that world would be quite boring!
Not only do young children develop at differing rates, but potential learning difficulties may not have been discovered! Additionally remember that everyone has a preferred learning style. This, too, very likely has not yet been discovered.
So what we have is a room full of young children just learning how to learn, each developing at their own rate and style, being expected to have accomplished the SAME THINGS by the end of the year!
More on this to come . . .