Common Core standards

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Since 2010, all but 5 states have developed new standards specifically for the English and Math departments. These standards are called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The system is designed to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.

The Common Core State Standards represent the first time that states have set common expectations for what students should know and be able to do. In the past, each state set it its own standards, and the results varied widely. While states collectively developed the Common Core Standards, decisions about the curriculum and teaching practices for reaching them were made locally.

Teachers, parents, and even community leaders have all weighed in to help create the Common Core State Standards. They are aiming for teachers to be better equipped and to know exactly what they need to do to help students learn and establish individualized benchmarks for them. The standards clearly communicate what is expected of students in every grade level.

Many students however, are showing almost little to no interest in the new system. The feedback from students, specifically in the San Ramon Unified School District, seem to uncover anxiety about how they will be affected by the tougher standards.

Sophomore Sara Reid feels that it will be hard to make a quick transition from the learning scheme that we are used to into the new Common Core Standards Curriculum.

“I think the new standards are definitely a big step in improving education in schools, but I also think that we should spend more time introducing the curriculum, and ease into it,” she said.

Another concern rising amongst students, is the thought of an increased difficulty in tests, that will be brought upon them. Classes that already have rigorous studying involved before taking tests, are the classes that these students are the most worried about.

Students like Gwen Little, also a sophomore, is concerned about the result that the Common Core Standards will have on students’ test scores.

“The Common Core tests were much harder than the tests that we were used to,” she said. “I have a good feeling that this is going to lead to a big drop in our test scores and proficiency, at least in the beginning.”

Students like sophomore Morgan Cobb, feel that the system will have success in schools, in hopes that it will help improve students’ overall  performance.

“I do think it will benefit the students at school, because it forces us to practice certain skills in all classes instead of just in one class,” Cobb said.

While the Common Core Standards present an enormous challenge for administrators and teachers, they were designed to better prepare students for life after high school. The higher level thinking skills, writing skills, and other skills attached to the Common Core Standards, will be beneficial to all the students. Teachers are switching gears from their original teaching methods to new ones, that will follow the guidelines of the new curriculum. English teacher Mrs. Chaplan, at Monte Vista High School, has already begun introducing her new teaching methods to her students.

“…I included more non-fiction into the curriculum and also added a variety of texts (documentaries, articles, news clips, cartoons) into my classroom and asked students to extract the meaning and purpose of each” Mrs. Chaplan said.

Building on the standards that states have created, the Common Core State standards are just the first step in providing young students in school with a high quality education.

All in all, with students, parents, and teachers all on the same page and working together for shared goals, the standards are hoping that students will make progress each year and graduate from school prepared to succeed in college and in workforce.