Opinion

Published on December 19th, 2017 | by Andrew Wright

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Why Common Core?

Common Core is a set of academic standards in mathematics and the English Language Arts/Literacy classes. These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade, but don’t truly teach the subjects. The goal of the Common Core standards are to prepare students to teach problem solving, and logical thinking to take the state tests and exams and not to teach kids on all the subjects they need to know. The downside to preparing kids only to take a standardized test is that it doesn’t teach anything but the memorization and regurgitation of information. This regurgitation technique benefits only a few individuals in any given school. If a teacher preaches the same style to all students and hopes for the same result, only a few of the students will actually learn. Students are people, and people are individuals with their own struggles and backing.

Standardized tests, which are meant to break the family income gap, are actually making it more apparent. Well-off students typically score in the top half of the results, while students from poor homes usually score in the bottom. If we really cared about improving the education of all students, the school would have a better system that allows students to spend more time on the stuff they need to learn or don’t fully grasp yet, and less time on the content that they already know.

Parents aren’t able to help their children who are struggling in school either. When students ask their parents for help, the students often need to explain what they are doing because it is a difficult to understand and seemingly pointless method of learning something. Most of the time, these strange methods are something that parents have never seen. The way most parents deal with this is by hiring tutors. Families who can afford tutors are better off and score better; they don’t even need to help their kids, they can just pay somebody to come over and do it for them. We should go to school to learn. Not to get confused about multiple subjects over seven hours, and then go home to pay for more hours of school from a different person, who can teach however they want, personally to one or a few students.

Common Core focuses on testing, testing and a little bit more of standardized testing. These tests make learning even harder for students, because the tests are all just memory dumps that make us memorize formulas and tricks that we then throw out because we need to make space for the new formulas and tricks. It’s almost like Common Core WANTS us to pay for tutors. That is why the students who are part of a wealthy family do well, while poorer families cannot afford such help, so they just go along struggling in a class of 25 to 31 students.

What we propose is that students should be able to still use the Common Core standard ideals. These ideals actually could heavily improve all students learning. Some of our teachers actually do excel in teaching in this way, such as Algebra 2 teacher and head of the math department Marae Cruce.

Common Core is more about teaching problem solving, number sense and logical thinking.  Instead of teaching algorithms to solve specific problems, the shift is to have students apply prior knowledge and decide how to approach the problem. The reality is when you encounter a math problem, you need to be able to decide what tools to apply in order to solve it. If you forget a specific formula (the quadratic formula, for example), you can research that on the internet, but you have to know what to search. The shift in teaching is on how to approach problems and applications of concepts,” Cruce said.

But the way in which Common Core has been used, makes the entire program fail. Instead of following through with the ideals, the way we execute it makes students focus more on regurgitation methods. Instead, a more individualized way of teaching should be made, to help students based on how they learned in the past. Because it works with applying prior knowledge to approaching new problems, it needs to be taught as such. Though it would be impossible to have students individually go to the limited amount of teachers throughout the day for the period of time they need them, and not have rigid times needed to be in class, we do need to focus more on individualizing our learning in class.

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