Common Core: right on or rotten for Colorado?

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Posted Thu, Feb 20, 2014

Compass Montessori 011

A student reads her book at Compass Montessori. [Photo by Angela Jackson]

DENVER — The set of education standards adopted by several states nationwide known as Common Core, are being asked to be re-evaluated for Colorado by Americans for Prosperity.
The Common Core standards were introduced in 2010, as an effort by educators, researchers and community groups to increase college and career readiness for America’s children.
Its aim is to grow student success and enlarge their international competitiveness, but not all are supporters of these standards.
Americans for Prosperity State Director Dustin Zvonek called Common Core the “latest federal education fad.” AFP describes itself as grassroots activists who advocate for public policies.

In an open letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, Zvonek called for a pause on implementing Common Core for Colorado in view of some the problems it is creating in other states. Zvonek was not available to comment on what specific difficulties he foresees the standards will bring to Colorado. Others view the standards as beneficial. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices also collaborated to help construct these standards.

“Teachers by and large like the standards and believe they will have a positive impact on student learning,” said Carrie Heath Phillips CCSSO Program Director for Common Core.
A study conducted by Scholastic, Inc. found that only 1 percent believe the Common Core State Standards will have a negative impact on students.
Callie Orgeron, program assistant for the Jefferson County Education Association does agree with the idea that Common Core can ease the learning process and it would create a “continuity of education standards across the states.”
However, she feels one possible drawback is that “many of the standards place an expectation on a certain age group that is cognitively not attainable at that age or at least is extremely difficult for the kids to master at that age,” Orgeron said.
If one-size-fits-all tests are administered and students do not perform proficiently, Orgeron said it suggests that teachers are not doing their job and students are not learning. “In reality it’s like asking a fish, a monkey and a pig to climb a tree and then punishing the fish and pig because they weren’t able to climb,” Orgeron said.

Children helping each other with schoolwork

Children helping each other with schoolwork. [Photo by Angela Jackson]

Some Montessori schools in Denver, which basic teaching elements involve independent study and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development, are not adopting the Common Core Standards at this time.

“Honestly, standards in general go against the basis of Montessori philosophy and curriculum,” said Tina Barath, a teacher at the Compass Montessori Elementary School in Wheat Ridge. “It creates a dilemma in that we first don’t want to teach to the test, we don’t want to change our curriculum and we don’t want to send our students into a test unprepared.

Despite any backlash, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offers another reason to adopt Common Core. “The Common Core standards mark a sea-change in education. Not only do they set the bar high, they give teachers the space and opportunity to go deep, emphasizing problem-solving, analysis and critical thinking,” Duncan said in a speech at the American Society of News Editors Annual Convention.
To date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core Standards.

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Angela Jackson

About Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer

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One Response to “Common Core: right on or rotten for Colorado?”

  1. Mia Szabo Says:

    Wow, I haven’t heard of this before, it’s very surprising that there is very little disagreement about Common Core, but that it goes against everything Montessori stands for, it seems a little bit like an oxymoron.

    Reply

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