Skip to main content

States use Common Core State Standards in improvement initiatives

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2011 12:45 PM

Currently, all but two states have approved the Common Core State Standards, a national curriculum for mathematics and English language arts. According to its website, the standards aim to ensure that all students across the country are learning the same topics in the same grades.

Many academic leaders support the Common Core State Standards and feel that it can revamp the nation's schools. Due to this fact, many institutions across the country are currently using it as a tool in their education improvement initiatives.

For example, Kentucky's Shawnee High School, which recently changed its name to the Academy at Shawnee, was under enormous pressure to increase its academics, Education Week reports. While this was a huge undertaking for Keith Look, principal of the institution, he said he believes that things are finally starting to turn around for the school.

This year, attendance has increased while suspensions have decreased. Additionally, almost all of the teachers from last year are still working at the school, which would have been unusual in the past.

Raven Smock, a senior at the institution, told the news outlet that the teachers' attitudes towards their work environment have been a major change at the institution this year. Only a year ago, he said he watched educators walk out of their classrooms in frustration.

"Last year, we had teachers giving up on us," he said. "Nobody was pushing me."

Principal Look said that as his school begins to turn around, one of the biggest instruments in this change has been the Common Core State Standards. Currently, he said he is introducing the curriculum to his staff slowly and giving them a "crash course" on what students will be expected to learn in the future.

The news outlet reports that the standards were implemented in the state as part of a program that ensures that students are learning skills that will prepare them to enter college or hold a job after graduation.

Similarly, Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin has also made changes to its curriculum that center around the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the Beloit Daily News reports.

Ensuring that their curriculum is in line with the new standards, officials from the high school are attempting to bolster academic success in their students. So far, they have decided to offer children additional reading help and increase the rigor of their English language arts requirements.

Like the Academy at Shawnee, this school also plans to launch a program that makes education relevant to teens. This will aim to prepare them for life after graduation.

The Common Core State Standards is also the backbone of improvement for schools in Brookfield, Connecticut, according to Brookfield's Patch website. In order to improve their academics, Genie Slone, assistant superintendent, recommended that these schools launch a Literacy Framework Committee.

In her written State of the Schools report, she wrote that this program has used the Common Core State Standards requirements regarding reading, writing, speaking and language proficiency to create a clear "literacy framework" for the schools, the news outlet reports. These new requirements created by the committee will be submitted to the state Board of Education for final approval this fall.

Under the new standards, Slone wrote that Brookfield's schools now focus on more than the traditional topics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Now, they emphasize rigor, relevance and relationships, she stated.

In terms of relevance, Slone said that the new curriculum ensures that children are able to work on projects that relate to their lives and their future goals. This will help guide Brookfield students when they enter college or the workforce.