New Common Core curriculum introduced


Nikol Slatinska

In March of 2016, the Missouri State Board of Education will decide whether or not to implement the new learning standards introduced by House Bill 1490. The bill was originally rejected because it prohibited school districts from using common core standards, but was later changed and now serves to establish work groups to examine the current learning standards and suggest revisions.
After Gov. Jay Nixon signed the bill in the summer of 2014, work groups began making changes and composed their final proposals this October.
CPS Language Arts and Social Studies Coordinator Nick Kremer believes the revisions were necessary in some fields of learning but not in others. He also thinks they cause critical alignment problems since the new kindergarten through fifth grade standards are organized much differently than the sixth through 12th grade standards. That will induce incoming middle school students to be unprepared for the rigor of higher level classes.
“I personally believe that revisions were largely unnecessary in Language Arts and Mathematics, as the Common Core standards are coherently organized, appropriately rigorous and aligned to college and career readiness goals important for 21st century education,” Kremer said. “In Science and Social Studies, I think revisions to the Missouri learning standards were badly needed, in order to revamp those areas to be in line with the latest educational research.”
The fact that Common Core is privately owned irritates sophomore Cami Kudrna, especially since the people who develop it aren’t educators. To her it all seems more about money than educating young minds.
I don’t think that Common Core should be used in any subject whatsoever,” Kudrna said. “It typically over-complicates problems when the material can be learned without the extra stuff that’s added. If that aspect is still present in the [new] curriculum, then I don’t think the standards should be [implemented].”
Sophomore Connor Squellati said the issue with Common core is that it teaches students on a foundation that’s suitable for the “average student,” even though it’s obvious that not all students are average.
“With the majority [of students] being exceptionally advanced in education, the lower-than-average students will struggle and not be able to keep up,” Squellati said. “Sometimes the regular ‘average student’ might not do so well either because they might think differently. And just because someone doesn’t do well with the Common Core, doesn’t mean that they’re ‘stupid’. It just means that they think in a different way than everyone else. Hence, [Common Core] is unfair and steers some minds in the wrong direction.”
Although everyone agreed change in the curriculum was necessary, disputes arose among work group members since many were associated with the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core and were more concerned with abolishing current standards.
Other members were educators looking to reduce the total number of learning standards required at each grade level. Although they eventually came to an agreement, Kremer said the learning standard issue is not fully solved yet.
“I believe the proposed K-5 standards in each content area need to be further revised in order to appropriately scaffold the skills students will need to be successful in secondary schools,” Kremer said. “If these revisions cannot be made, I think the State Board of Education should maintain the existing standards, which have a very strong vertical progression across all grade levels.”
Kudrna thinks that Common Core should be completely abolished, particularly at the elementary level.  She used the example that its standards have kids learning form confusing graphics, like drawing 20 dots to show that they know how to add 12 and 8.
[quote cite=”Sophomore Connor Squellati”]”Just because someone doesn’t do well with the Common Core, doesn’t mean that they’re ‘stupid’. It just means that they think in a different way than everyone else. Hence, [Common Core] is unfair and steers some minds in the wrong direction.” [/quote] “Teachers have been told to start using lingo like ‘take a ten and regroup it as ten ones’ instead of simply saying ‘borrowing’,” Kudrna said. “There are problems given that don’t even require the skill that is being tested, and the answer is just given in the question. It’s very frustrating, and education isn’t even being tested.”
Squellati agrees, saying that certain subjects needed for future career skills should avoid Common Core because it doesn’t conform to each individual’s way of thinking. That applies a great deal to Language Arts, a subject where there shouldn’t be a set expectation on writing style, as long as students are technically correct, because everyone’s form of expression is unique. Despite that, Squellati does believe that there should be some set structure when it comes to teaching students how to correctly and effectively use proper spelling and grammar.
“CPS should definitely consider changing the Common Core into a more lenient system to allow equal flexibility to all students and each individual to succeed based on their different aspects and opinions,” Squellati said. “Each student thinks differently, and changes in Common Core are necessary for all students to be successful in education and ensure a stable career in their future.”
However, Kremer explained that regardless of what the state does, CPS will continue to utilize the Common Core standards in English/language arts, mathematics and science. even if the new problematic standards do get passed next year, their impact on students will be minimal as the district has no plans to immediately assimilate to them.
“In doing so, we would still be compliant with the proposed new standards, as they represent essentially the same content written in more generic language and, at times, less rigorous, ways,” Kremer said. “If other districts opt to abandon the Common Core, I think they will lose the benefit of many great national resources that have produced supporting learning in those areas.”
art by Megan Goyette
Do you think changes should be made to the current Common Core system?