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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

5 Reasons to Welcome Common Core

Public schools get underway this week, and with the new year comes an expansion of the Common Core curriculum into grades 3-8. Younger students got their first taste of the Common Core last year.

The Common Core State Standards is the college- and career-ready curriculum developed by national experts at the request of states via the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-four states are using the Common Core.

The Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell wrote an excellent story for Sunday's paper about how the Common Core is being implemented in Arkansas. In it are at least five reasons identified by state education officials, school district administrators and teachers that the Common Core is a good thing for Arkansas:
  • The new standards will help ensure that Arkansas students are able to enter higher education without the need for remediation, according to Laura Bedner, assistant commissioner at the Arkansas Department of Education.  Pre-Common Core learning standards, both in Arkansas and across the country, have failed to do that.
  • The concepts and skills our students are mastering match the concepts and skills students in the other 43 Common Core states are learning at the same grade level. This will be a big advantage for students as they seek success after high school, and it will enhance Arkansas's ability to create a workforce that attracts well-paying jobs to the state.
  • The emphasis is on depth not breadth. As math teacher Stephanie Muckelburg told Howell: "We have so many Arkansas (curriculum) frameworks. It's kind of like we just skim the surface of them. With the Common Core, there are not as many standards and we can go deeper and teach students more about equations and how they are used in the real world and why they are going to need them."
  • Students will use technology a lot more in their lessons. "We will be expanding our classrooms into the technology world," literacy director Karen James said.  The value of that is obvious.
  • Students will master concepts through "doing."  As Linda Remele, a deputy superintendent for learning services put it, "This is all project-based learning. This is a differnt way. It is not stand and deliver and lecture -- not even in first grade."

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