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August 15, 2013

Schools Set to Adopt New “Common Core” Learning Standards

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Change is coming to classrooms around the country as school districts in 45 states and the District of Columbia are set to adopt the Common Core, a set of universal learning objectives meant to standardize what students are taught across the U.S.

What separates the Common Core from previous education programs is that it tells teachers what students must know, but allows individual classrooms and schools to decide for themselves how to reach these goals.

“It used to be, this is how you do it. Here are your steps. If you don’t do it that way, you’re wrong,” said Jessie Startup, a teacher at The School for Global Leaders in New York City.

“Now the Common Core says, do it any way you want. Just be able to do it and justify your answer. So, students could draw a picture to figure out an answer, set up an equation, make a table. There’s a variety of methods to do the same problem.”

However, some teachers are feeling overwhelmed by the changes. Brenda Cartagena, a 13-year veteran teacher at The Courtlandt School in New York said, “We were not given curriculums, and said this is what you guys are going to do. They just told us, this is the expectation, and you figure it out.”

While it is still unclear how changing to Common Core will affect classrooms in the long run, schools have two years to get used to the new system before serious testing begins in 2015.


Warm up questions
  1. Which of these levels of understanding can you test in a regular multiple choice assessment?
    • Knowledge
    • Comprehension
    • Application
    • Analysis
    • Synthesis
    • Evaluation
  2. If an assessment is any tool designed to test whether or not you know how to do something, which kind of test do you prefer and why? Multiple Choice? Essays? Projects? A presentation using technology? An oral presentation? A debate?
  3. Rank how difficult the assessments from question 2 are. Which one is the easiest to the hardest, and why?
Discussion questions
  1. Do you think that it is most important to test for content knowledge(the facts), the skills needed to present the facts, or some combination of both?
  2. Is it important that these new tests are taken on computers? Why or why not?
  3. If the Common Core Standard’s Test only assess the Math, Reading, and Writing sections, but not the speaking, listening and language parts, how good of a test is it of a student’s full capability of skills? If you were the designer of the test how would you measure those skills?
  4. Why is learning and working together in groups (or collaboration) such an important skill? Can a multiple choice assessment test for this skill?
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