Valid questions raised about 'Common Core'

Friday, May 22, 2015

Advocates of "common core" standards for K-12 education have framed the debate as a question of whether we prefer high academic standards or low academic standards.

It is not that simple. There are legitimate concerns about what some see is the first step toward developing a national curriculum.

One concern is that some standardized test questions are poorly designed and confusing to test takers, no matter what level of academic skills they might have.

Another concern is the amount of time that is diverted from instruction into test taking. With teacher-generated testing, the test results can be used as educational tools, allowing the students to learn from mistakes.

With mass standardized testing, the students learn nothing from the tests except where they rank as a percentile among others at the same grade level who have taken the test.

Another concern is that this seems to be the latest fad in constantly shifting educational philosophy.

The trend for the last few decades has been some variation of more rigor in English, math, science and social studies, preparing all students to enter four-year universities.

There was a push at one time to increase secondary school vocational education, but such educational programs, as well as humanities, have been downgraded in favor of an education that seems designed to produce a uniform product for a diverse job market.