Ensuring that every child receives the tools needed to succeed in college and a career is the goal of the national Common Core State Standards Initiative. However, not every state is on board with this plan arguing that streamlining the educational process does not work for everyone.
Five States Holding Out
Released in 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core State Standards Initiative is supposed to help teachers, parents, and students understand what is needed for children to succeed in secondary schools and the workforce. It also enables states and school districts to effectively collaborate on ways to close achievement gaps nationwide.
But, not everyone agrees this initiative will help students. As of 2013, four states -- Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia, and Texas -- had yet to formally adopt the entire curriculum, claiming the plan does not guarantee higher test scores and is not tailored to meet the diverse needs of all the nation's schools. One more state, Minnesota, adopted the reading standards but not the math standards.
The story does not end there, as some states who initially agreed to adopt the program are now pushing back and delaying initiation of the standards. These include Indiana, Lousiana and others.1
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a voluntary education reform program geared to bring the different state curriculums into alignment. Before this initiative was designed, each state implemented its own set of standards although there were discrepancies in what information students needed to know and what they were actually able to attain.
There are currently standards released for mathematics and English language arts, both of which outline specific mandates that should be taught. This includes math curriculums that are "more focused and coherent" and English standards that ensure that high school graduates are literacy ready for college and the workplace.2 The latter of these standards is broken down into five components:
- Speaking and listening
- Media and technology
These standards do not require that students learn cursive writing, but instead include lessons in keyboarding. School districts, may however, add a cursive requirement or provide instruction in the writing style.
Battle Against the Common Core
Although most of the states are on board with this initiative, there are those who question forcing such a rigid plan on schools that are already coping with other governmental initiatives such as No Child Left Behind. But that is only one of the criticisms. Others believe the Common Core State Standards takes away local control of schools and won't make a difference in student achievement.3
The state of Texas has adamantly balked at the standards especially in the areas of math and reading because they "represented an unwarranted federal intrusion into the classroom." In the area of science, Texas educators and politicians are against the initiative because it doesn't cover everything, specifically evolution, and climate change, like the current Next Generation Science Standards does.4 Finally, the Texas State Board of Education revamped its science curriculum in 2009 when a battle ensued over how the theory of evolution should be taught.
Another state outspoken against the Common Core State Standards Initiative is Nebraska. After initially endorsing the program, Nebraska education officials had second thoughts after the federal government got involved. They also believe that the initiative doesn't have the "mechanism for states to update or control the standards."5 Minnesota is the only state that skipped adopting the mathematics standards because education officials felt their state's mandates were already revised and more "rigorous" than what the Common Core offered.6
Virginia declined to adopt the federal standards because it already has its own educational standards that educators feel mirrors "the purpose of the Common Core Standards."7 While the state of Alaska as a whole has not approved the standards, the Anchorage School District voted to implement the curriculum immediately.
Finding a Program That Works
It's no secret the nation's education system needs an overhaul to improve test scores and better prepare students for college and adult life. However, a global program such as the Common Core State Standards Initiative may not be the answer for every school district.