So much chatter about the CCSS has made it to comedy television with hosts reading math problems and evaluating the common core based on curriculum.
One important aspect of the CCSS that appears to be overlooked is where the curriculum comes from – the standards are national, the curriculum and implementation is local. If you play soccer in your backyard it is not the same as playing it in the World Cup, the playing field might be different, the amount of players adjusted, but a goal is a goal. Curriculum can be changed, but the standards are critical to finally having an educational system that provides students with a strong foundation from which to develop critical thinking and information processing strategies.
Many chuckles were heard as the comedy host poked fun at the way we are asking children to think about math as they do math. When Johnny and Mary compute a math problem, we don’t only want the answer, we want to know how they arrived at the answer, what was their reasoning? This is critical thinking about computation and something we have lacked in American education for too many years.
The CCSS are an opportunity to encourage self-regulation not only amongst students, but teachers, teacher educators, teacher candidates and the educational community at large. They are a series of specific and proximal goals that keep us all on track (nationally) to produce college and career ready young adults. For example, in order for a first graders in New York, Mississippi, and California to set specific goals and check the progress of performance towards meeting those goals, there has to be a standard! If the first grader does not meet the goal at the first attempt, self-regulation (and the CCSS spiral) invites them to review their performance, and reset the goal – there is no fear of failure, just a gradual progression towards success. The CCSS is repetitive and encourages walking up the staircase of complexity slowly but surely, accomplishing goals in order to move to the next level.
Standards are a good thing, the way we are implementing them is where the controversy lies. Educators need to agree on the goals, and find a way to get administrators to listen to the voices that can inspire successful implementation at every level.