Teachers hopeful, uncertain of what will come of newly implemented state standards

Common Core: Common Standards is a set of six standards created by the federal and now state legal system. They are intended to create a common education for all students nationwide in math, English and literacy skills.

“Last Year, District 202 implemented Common Core State Standards in math curriculum in our Algebra 2 and Pre-calculus classes,” math teacher, Arlene Morris said.

Although math began last year, the 2014-15 school year has begun the implementation of these standards into English classes, which is supposed to create a huge change for the bettering of the United States educational system.

“However, there have been issues with implementing the Common Core nationwide. Many educators believe that the math standards are developmentally inappropriate,” Morris said. “Some believe that focusing on nonfiction and minimalizing fiction [in English classes] will breed a generation of students that do not have a love of reading. Time will tell how CCSS will affect our children.”

In high hopes of a positive outcome, many teachers seem to be in favor of the deeper thinking that is required by common core.

“I hope that it is a positive effect because the focus is more on the real world application,” Lynda Clark, math teacher, said. Morris shares similar thoughts as well.

“It sounds like our students will have a solid math foundation and a stronger ability to problem-solve and think critically,” Morris said with hopes of a larger, but also positive impact. The reasoning for less content is “so that we can focus on digging deeper into the topics that remain,” she said.

“It’s good to have kids think more in depth,” science teacher, John Bayer said.

Scott Nissley, another math teacher said that “overall it can be good. [It] focuses more on student problem solving on persistence and the depth of questioning. [It is] the opposite of dumbing down.”

I think common core focusing on skills is good because it gives teachers and students guidelines. It provides us with a blueprint of those skills so [students] are ready for college,” English teacher Karin Walker said.

While appreciating the intention of common core, some teachers feel that it will not actually be a major shift in education overall.

“I think that for a social studies teacher, we are already doing a lot of what common core is asking us, and so it’s just reinforcing good teaching,” social science teacher Jonathan Pereiro said.

“I don’t think it will be a dramatic change,” said Clark, adding “math doesn’t change.” She said that it is possible that there will be “little to no effect as far as math is concerned.” She also said that results of common core may not even have a chance to make a difference.

“I think that we will see another change in curriculum before time allows us to see the results of common core,” said Clark. She added that the changes and effects of common core will not necessarily be a miraculous solution to educating students.

“I think it’s more complex than that. It’s more than just common core,” Clark said about resolving the present issues within the educational system. “We are learning as we go,” Clark said.

Other teachers are hoping that younger students will be better adjusted to common core and fall under the higher expectations.

“I think the incoming freshmen will have a better vocabulary. I am hoping that will lead to a better segue from middle school to high school,” Walker said.

Bayer said that students should be able to “take a concept and be able to expand on it more,” under the common core curriculum. He also said that “kids doing [common core] in elementary school will carry that into high school and they will be used to that way of thinking.”

Although a lot can come from the new standards set by the government, it is not necessarily what makes the system a success or failure.

“A set of standards is not what is most beneficial to the students; the teacher that inspires, motivates, encourages and lights that spark in his or her students, is most beneficial,” Morris said. From the teacher to other outside influences, Common Core may or may not be a large change to the educational system.

“I don’t believe that any set of standards could hold a student back from accomplishing whatever they are capable of,” Morris said.