I encounter a lot of misinformation about the Common Core State Standards. Let’s take a few moments to explore three of the most frequently encountered myths.
Myth #1: Everything is changing!
Fact: While it’s true that the new standards may represent a different way of measuring student success, they’re not entirely new. The new standards are based on the most successful state standards, so they actually look familiar to many teachers. And since the Common Core State Standards don’t prescribe any particular curriculum or teaching style, you’re likely to find that many of your favorite teaching techniques and lesson plans still have a place in the CCSS classroom. Effective teaching is still effective teaching.
Myth #2: The Common Core State Standards are complicated and hard to understand.
Fact: The Common Core State Standards are detailed and specific. But once you understand the organization, and take a moment to familiarize yourself with a few terms, you’ll see that the standards are straightforward. There’s nothing about the standards that is “tricky.” They are logical. Understanding CCSS and meeting their requirements is well within the grasp of every teacher. Download your very own copy at http://www.corestandards.org and read it. You’ll see what I mean.
Myth #3: The new standards are a federal mandate, and politicians (not teachers) put them together.
Fact: The federal government wasn’t involved in the development of the CCSS. State governors and education commissioners led the initiative. Even though it’s unlikely that they asked you for your opinion, the standards most certainly weren’t created without teacher input! Actually, one of my favorite aspects of CCSS is the way in which teacher organizations were invited to provide individual teachers to help with the standards’ formation. These standards are research based, not politically motivated. And actual classroom teachers provided specific, concrete feedback at many steps along the way. Here are the teacher organizations whose members offered feedback:
• National Education Association (NEA)
• American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
• National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
• National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
These are organizations that you might belong to. I’m confident that they represent us. And that’s why I believe that these new standards empower teachers more than many of the previous generations of standards did.
Dr. Katie McKnight is an educator, author, and consultant. Her career in education began as a high school English teacher in the Chicago Public School system more than 20 years ago. She received her B.A. degree from George Washington University, her M.Ed. from Northeastern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Today, she serves as a Distinguished Professor of Research at National Louis University.