StateImpact Florida
7:20 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Feedback Loop: What Readers Think Of Common Core Standards

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 10:38 am

Readers tell us what they think of Common Core standards.

Merrycrafts / Flckr

Readers tell us what they think of Common Core standards.

All week we’ve been posting answers from teachers to three questions about the Common Core State Standards (Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, part 3 is here and a superintendent is here).

One criticism we’ve received from readers is that no teacher is going to bash the standards or training they received if they want to keep their job. Readers (not all from Florida) have also weighed in with their own thoughts on the standards.

Michael Paul Goldenberg is a math teacher who also writes about math education. He says Common Core rearranges topics — that means some teachers will teach topics which they never have before:

Here’s what you’ll never hear from a teacher who hopes to keep his/her job:

1) I received little (or NO) preparation for teaching the Common Core.

2) There are major new mathematics topics I’ve never taught being pushed down from higher grades. I have no idea why, and no one has tried to help me understand how they connect with what I have been teaching. Things that I used to teach that were pushed down to lower grades will be missed by this year’s 5th graders, but no one seems to think that’s problematic. Gee, maybe this should have been rolled out one grade at a time.

3) The new Practice Standards are just the same, pretty much, as the NCTM Process Standards I didn’t understand 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years ago, and couldn’t manage to incorporate into my teaching over the last quarter century. In fact, like many colleagues, I disliked those ideas and actively resisted employing them. But now that the state and federal governments are making this into a big deal, I’m certainly not about to admit that I think the best way to teach is direct instruction. And as soon as class starts going even a little bit out of my comfort zone, you can bet your life I’ll be going right back to teacher-centered, direct instruction. It’s how I was taught, and I believe it’s what works.

I could go on. There’s little point in reading the puff pieces above. These teachers aren’t about to cut their own professional throats by being completely candid. They can’t afford to. But do we really feel good about hearing a teacher talk about needing to learn “the tricks” about dividing fractions? Isn’t mathematics supposed to be about understanding concepts? I thought teaching tricks was the old approach. Might make one think, if one were inclined to thinking.

Rod Viquez says he doesn’t like what he’s seen so far:

Very well unimpressed with the role out in NJ. I feel that no one has specific answers about how this will actually work in class and what specifically are we looking for? The idea of per packaged tests from Pearson is worrying because it goes against the very idea of U B D methodology. 25k BATS are also against this corporate takeover that has no empirical evidence of actually being correct.

Mark Halpert says he’s heard good things about the Common Core standards, but worries that when fewer students meet state scores on the tests that it will be used to takeover low-performing schools. He’s also worried about the effect on teacher evaluations:

I have spoken to many teachers and they like the Common Core Standards because they go deeper, allow the teachers to be facilitators and teach critical thinking skills. I am tired of hearing every good comment followed by, “I wonder how much they were paid” The Common Core Standards have many good attributes — the danger is that teachers, schools and students will be “Punished” because scores drop because the tests are harder. We need to work through that issue and make sure the Privatization Express does not capitalize on the opportunity because the real people were unaware of the consequences — we need to fight the Parent Trigger and other egregious bills and actions

And finally, eighth grade American History teacher tabbyloowho says the standards started to click during training this summer:

I think it takes a while and a lot of repetitive training but those teachers that are willing to put in the time up front will do a great job of implementing CCSS. The trainings I attended this summer finally brought it full circle showing how the CCSS was related to the Sunshine State Standards as well as the dreaded Marzano domains. I feel more prepared but the first year will be the hardest as I have to create new lessons. I teach American History, grade 8.

Got any thoughts on Common Core? Post them in the comments. Have a question you’d like us to answer? Email them to florida@stateimpact.org and put Core Questions in the subject.

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Florida’s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Florida. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/.