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Teachers adopt Common Core State Standards, focus on critical analysis

MONDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2013 18:08 PM

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are losing ground in Delaware as more teachers are using the standards to guide the curriculum in the classroom. The Standards, which outline the expected skill level of students using specific academic benchmarks, have been at the center of much political debate. But now it seems that even the staunchest critics have to admit that the use of such benchmarks has its merits.

Educators in 45 states including Delaware and the District of Columbia have begun to use the CCSS to develop critical thinking skills in students in grades K-12. Rote memorization is no longer the sole focus of a student. Higher-order thinking skills have taken priority.

Delaware Teachers and the Common Core State Standards 
Students in Amy Lawson's fifth-grade classroom at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middleton, Del., no longer have to purely memorize the plot of a play. They must also be able to discuss what characters might say to each other in an email. Melissa Grieshober's students play a capture-the-flag type of game where the answer to a flash card math question allows them to move a certain amount of spaces in a specified direction. The game has plenty to do with the laws of probability and predictability and even requires a little bit of luck. In Grieshober's game, students have to explain the process of how they arrived at their answer to both her and the rest of the class. Although there are correct answers, there are also multiple ways to get there.

Many teachers, including Lawson and Grieshober, believe that the Common Core State Standards are preparing students for high school and beyond.

"We are asking kids to do more, and to dig deeper," Grieshober told The Associated Press. "We are teaching them to be lifelong problem solvers."

The future of education
New tests are challenging both students and teachers alike to meet higher standards of achievement. First set by the George W. Bush administration through the No Child Left Behind Act, the exams are a way for states to identify schools that are struggling and help them maintain a high standard of academics for students. In schools like Silver Lake Elementary, where Principal Cynthia Clay is insisting that her teachers receive extra training in CCSS, the implementation of the standards are taken quite seriously.

"We know there is going to be a bump in the road," Clay told the Associated Press. "But we're going to do our best for the students."