Common Core's Winding Path

No matter how old you are, you’ll learn something new every day. We’re taught new things, refresh dusty skills, or realize how much we truly DON’T know. Schooling, especially at a young age, is designed to teach us how to think critically, look for patterns, understand history, and face challenges that inevitably arise in daily life.

But for teachers, getting these lessons across can be tricky since different people learn in different ways. Our education system looks for tools to make learning consistent nationwide so that no-one is left behind. In recent years, this was through the use of Common Core State Standards.

Researchers at the New York Times explain that “The plan was hatched with high hopes and missionary zeal: For the first time in its history, the United States would come together to create consistent, rigorous education standards and stop letting so many school children fall behind academically. More than 40 states signed on to the plan, known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative after it was rolled out in 2010 by a bipartisan group of governors, education experts, and philanthropists.”

But over the last few years, results have been mixed. Improvements were often slow and costly, with additional teacher training, new textbooks and materials, and increased standardized testing. And change, as we all know, is daunting. Only a few years after roll-out, the New York Times reports that “by the mid-2010s, the Common Core had a public relations problem. More than 20 states eventually repealed, revised, or rolled back parts of the program.”

By one estimate, “As of January 2017, eight of the 46 original adopters of the Common Core have dropped the standards, 21 states had either changed or were in the process of changing the standards and 17 have kept them intact.” In 2019 alone, there were ongoing challenges in the state legislatures of Alabama, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia.

Industry research from 2019 shows mixed results. “Studying the effects of Common Core is challenging since the changes reached so many students nationwide at the same time—so there is a good deal of uncertainty in determining whether the standards were successful.” Results require large amounts of data that could take many years to compile.

To combat early naysayers, many states are re-branding, revising, and overhauling the Common Core.

Some states, like Iowa and Florida, gave it a new name. Whether the Iowa Core or Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, they hope to change the conversation. Others will continue using only portions of the Core Standards or simply abandon them altogether.

However your school teaches and tests, it’s helpful to have many resources at your fingertips. And, as with sports, hobbies, music, art, and gaming, don’t forget the three P’s: practice, practice, practice.

Access your nearby public library—or their vast array of digital resources—from home or on-site. Hire a tutor to deep-dive into concepts. Use EXAMgen’s in-depth question banks and quiz yourself. The path may be winding but the destination is always knowledge.

EXAMgen discusses the issues surrounding Common Core State Standards