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Common Core is changing teaching

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 11:17 AM

Slate reported that teachers have a difficult time adapting to Common Core standards. Some educators find that the material students are required to learn is too complicated, and teaching it is difficult. Of the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have fully or partially adopted Common Core State Standards testing, it is clear the implementation of the tests proves more complicated than expected, and the results are still unclear.

Difficult subject matter
Valeria Lake, an eighth grade English teacher from Lower Manhattan, a borough of New York City, told Slate that her students are being forced to study books that are above their reading level. She said the seventh graders in her school, Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, used to read "The Skin I'm In" by Sharon G. Flake. Now, they're delving into "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." The book's Penguin teaching guide states that it is readily accessible to high school students, which goes to say that the vocabulary and concepts may be over the head of seventh-grade readers. Lake mentioned the class must read the book several times to do deep reading and thoroughly grasp what is going on, which changes their relationship to the story greatly. Lake is against standardized testing because she finds not all students learn on the same level, and the exams do not take individual learning styles into account.

Sharon Look, a teacher from Pa'ia Elementary School in Hawaii, informed Slate that she thinks many people believe students should be able to adapt to Common Core Standards over night. In reality, the tests change the way students think, causing them to ask more questions and dig into their subject matter much past face value. This is a process that involves learning and changing and will not happen just because a state has adopted the standards.

Conflicting views
Some teachers find the Standards are reachable, while others wonder if they ask too much of students. A study released by Scholastic in October 2014 found that teachers' confidence in their abilities to teach Common Core Standards has improved 8 percentage points from 2013. Of the more than 1,600 teachers who participated in the study, 53 percent think that Common Core implementation has had a positive impact on their students' ability to use reasoning skills and critical thinking. As most states wait for the latest round of exam scores, it is unclear if students have improved, and much of this data revolves around personal opinions.