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The Common Core Standards will be fully implemented beginning in 2014-2015. So far there are only five states that have chosen not to adopt these standards including Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, & Virginia. The impact of the Common Core Standards will loom large as this is perhaps the biggest shift in educational philosophy in the history of the United States. Much of the population will be significantly impacted by the implementation of the Common Core Standards in one form or another. Here, we look into how different groups may be affected by the upcoming Common Core Standards.
In sports, it has been said that the coach gets too much praise for winning and too much criticism for losing. This will likely hold true for superintendents and school principals when it comes to the Common Core Standards. In an era of high stakes testing, the stakes will never be higher than they will be with the Common Core. The responsibility of that school's success or failure with the Common Core Standards ultimately falls back on its leadership.
It is essential that administrators know what they are dealing with when it comes to the Common Core Standards. They need to have a plan for success in place that includes providing rich professional development opportunities for teachers, being logistically prepared in areas such as technology and curriculum, and they must find ways to get the community to embrace the importance of the Common Core. Those administrators who do not prepare for the Common Core Standards could end up losing their job if their students do not perform adequately.
Teachers (Core Subjects)
Perhaps no group will feel the pressures of the Common Core Standards greater than teachers. Many teachers will have to change their approach altogether in the classroom in order for their students to succeed on the Common Core Standards assessments. Make no mistake that these standards and the assessments that accompany them are intended to be rigorous. Teachers will have to create lessons that include higher level thinking skills and writing components in order to prepare students for the Common Core Standards. This approach is difficult to teach on a daily basis because students, particularly in this generation, are resistant to those two things.
There will be more pressure than ever placed on teachers whose students do not perform adequately on the assessments. This could lead to many teachers being fired. The intense pressure and scrutiny that teachers will be under will create stress and teacher burnout which could lead to many good, young teachers leaving the field. There is also a chance that many veteran teachers will choose to retire rather than make the necessary changes.
Teachers cannot wait until the 2014-2015 school year to begin to change their approach. They need to phase Common Core components gradually into their lessons. This will not only help them as teachers but will also help their students. Teachers need to attend all the professional development that they can and collaborate with other teachers about the Common Core. Having a firm understanding about what the Common Core Standards are as well as how to teach them are necessary if a teacher is going to be successful.
Teachers (Non-Core Subjects)
Teachers who specialize in areas such as physical education, music, and art will be affected by the Common Core State Standards. The perception is that these areas are expendable. Many believe that they are extra programs that schools offer as long as funding is available and/or they do not take critical time away from core subject areas. As the pressure mounts to improve test scores from Common Core assessments, many schools could choose to end these programs thus allowing more instructional time or intervention time in the core areas.
The Common Core Standards themselves present opportunities for teachers of non-core subjects to integrate aspects of the Common Core standards into their daily lessons. Teachers in these areas may have to adapt to survive. They will have to be creative in including aspects of the Common Core in their daily lessons while remaining true to the academic roots of physical education, art, music, etc. These teachers may find it necessary to reinvent themselves in order to prove their mettle in schools across the country.
Reading specialists and intervention specialists will increasingly become more prominent as schools will need to find ways to close gaps in reading and math that struggling students may have. Research has proven that one-on-one or small group instruction has a greater impact at a quicker pace than whole group instruction. For students who struggle in reading and/or math, a specialist can work miracles in getting them on level. With the Common Core Standards, a fourth-grade student who reads on a second-grade level will have little chance to be successful. With the stakes as high as they will be, schools will be smart to hire more specialists to assist those fringe students who with a little extra assistance can get on level.
While the Common Core Standards presents an enormous challenge for administrators and teachers, it will be the students who unknowingly benefit the most from them. The Common Core Standards will better prepare students for life after high school. The higher level thinking skills, writing skills, and other skills attached to the Common Core will be beneficial to all students.
This does not mean that students will not be resistant to the difficulty and changes associated with the Common Core Standards. Those wanting instant results are not being realistic. Students entering middle school or above in 2014-2015 will have a harder time adjusting to the Common Core than those entering Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. It will probably take a full cycle of students (meaning 12-13 years) before we can realistically see the true impact of the Common Core Standards on students.
Students need to understand that school will be more difficult as a result of the Common Core Standards. It will require more time outside of school and a focused approach in school. For older students, this is going to be a difficult transition, but it will still be beneficial. In the long run, a dedication to academics will pay off.
The level of parental involvement will need to increase in order for students to be successful with the Common Core Standards. Parents who value education will love the Common Core Standards because their children will be pushed like never before. However, those parents who fail to be involved in their child's education will likely see their children struggle. It will take a total team effort beginning with the parents for students to be successful. Reading to your child every night from the time they are born are beginning steps to being involved in your child's education. A disturbing trend in child rearing is that as a child gets older, the level of involvement decreases. This trend needs to be changed. Parents need to be as involved in their child's education at age 18 as they are at age 5.
Parents will need to understand what the Common Core Standards are and how they impact their child's future. They will need to communicate more effectively with their children's teachers. They will need to stay on top of their child making sure that homework is completed, providing them with extra work, and stressing the value of education. Parents ultimately have the most impact on their child's approach to school and no time is this more powerful than it will be in the Common Core Standard era.
For the first time in the history of the United States, states will be able to compare test scores accurately from one state to the other. In our current system, with states having their own unique set of standards and assessments, a student could be proficient in reading in one state and unsatisfactory in another. The Common Core Standards will create competition between states.
This competition could have political ramifications. Senators and representatives want to their states to thrive academically. This could help schools in some areas, but it could hurt them in others. The political influence of the Common Core Standards will be a fascinating development to follow as the assessment scores begin to be published in 2015.
Higher education should be positively affected by the Common Core Standards as students should be better prepared for a college curriculum. Part of the driving force behind the Common Core was that more and more students entering college were requiring remediation particularly in the areas of reading and math. This trend led to a call for increased rigor in public education. As students are taught using the Common Core Standards, this need for remediation should significantly decrease and more students should be college-ready when they leave high school.
Higher education will also be directly impacted in the area of teacher preparation. Future teachers need to be adequately prepared with the tools necessary to teach the Common Core Standards. This will fall on the responsibility of teacher colleges. Colleges who do not make changes in how they prepare future teachers are doing a disservice to those teachers and the students whom they will serve.
Community members including merchants, businesses, and tax paying citizens will be affected by the Common Core Standards. Children are our future, and as such everyone should be invested in that future. The ultimate purpose of the Common Core Standards is to prepare students adequately for higher education and to enable them to compete in a global economy. A community fully invested in education will reap rewards. That investment may come through donating time, money, or services, but communities that value and support education will thrive economically.