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Common Core myths debunked

TUESDAY, APRIL 08, 2014 12:09 PM

The Common Core State Standards have become an educational hot topic in the past few years. Unfortunately, the myths surrounding it can be difficult to discern, causing many people to misunderstand the goals and facts associated with the Common Core. If you are interested in learning the truth about the Standards, check out these misconceptions and the realities that debunk them:

1. Myth: The Common Core is a national curriculum
Not only is the Common Core not a national program, it's also not a curriculum. States can individually decide whether or not they want to adopt the Standards, and are allowed to back out at any time. In fact, the federal government played no part in writing the Standards - they were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Furthermore, each state that adopts the CCSS creates its own unique goals and curriculum aligned with the Standards. 

2. Myth: Teachers are limited under the Common Core
The CCSS give teachers the freedom to develop curriculum and work with their students in a way they believe will benefit their classroom. For example, the Common Core requires that kindergartners be able to count to 100 by increments of ones and tens. Each teacher may develop a unique lesson plan filled with creative learning activities. 

3. Myth: Kids must read a certain set of texts
Many parents and educators are confused by the topic of reading lists and the Common Core, and many mistakenly believe that all students have to read the books listed in Appendix B of the Standards. However, those titles are actually suggestions, not requirements. Students must only study the Preamble of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address. Other than that, states and teachers can choose what their students will read. 

4. Myth: Students don't need the Common Core to prepare for college
Data released by ACT revealed that a quarter of students who took the test in 2012 were not ready for college. Students who are considered college ready have at least a 75 percent chance of passing college classes in a certain subject area. However, science test scores have improved since 2008, and many believe it's because of the Common Core. 

"State-level initiatives related to STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math - may well have helped move the needle in math and science," Jon Erickson, president of the Education Division at ACT, told U.S. News & World Report.

Though science has improved thanks to the CCSS, STEM subjects still need a lot of attention. The Common Core helps schools take steps to improve STEM scores by creating focused goals and promoting challenging lessons.