Idaho aligning with Common Core State Standards is not an all-together bad idea. After all, if we don’t have a common set of expectations for all students, how will we ever have equity in education?
CCSS demands less emphasis on fact memorization and more emphasis on critical analysis and problem solving.
Let’s face it. Times have changed. It isn’t important to know the exact dates of events and the minutia of each war. Computers are at our fingertips so these facts can be easily found. What isn’t easy is taking the questions to the next level: Why did the Vietnam war take place? What were some of the reasons brother fought against brother in the Civil War? Students may know how to use geometry but how would they apply their knowledge to build a shed?
The new standards scale back this mad rush for content learning. It appears that someone finally got the memo that modest units of information are not that important in an age when people carry computers in their pockets and can access any information with a click. This does not mean you stop teaching core ideas and subjects, but it means you can spend more time going into depth with topics, allowing for students to explore and develop their own understandings of difficult ideas.
It’s not learning and spitting out answers. True, some of our students won’t like this at first because it’s not what they’re used to. (One seventh grader at GEMS told me the Smarter Balanced on-line test – which will take the place of ISATs – was “dumb.” When I asked why, she said, “because you have to write out everything and it takes a long time. There isn’t multiple choice.” Guess what? Life isn’t multiple choice, either.)
The ramped up standards, with a greater emphasis on critical thinking and literacy, will be difficult. Many teachers will have to re-do lesson plans and tests. Students will have to think more and write more. They will also be better prepared for university.
Idaho is doing the right thing in confronting change while keeping core values intact.
— Lorie Palmer
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