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Why Common Core Doesn't Work

February 26, 2019

Education is a crucial part of every nation. In the USA it is held with very high regard and all measures put in place to make it better. The common core standards were created to help students for life after high school. That is life in college as well as career life. It aims at creating better individuals with more critical and analytical thinking. 
Since the introduction of the Common Core Standards almost a decade ago, there have been debates about whether it is working as intended or not. A lot of evaluation has been done, and to some extent, it seems not to be working. 
What could be the reasons behind this failure? It has not entirely failed, but some crucial factors have pushed the thought that it could be failing. We'll discuss some of them here and understand the shortcomings. Once we identify the problem, maybe we could do something about it and make the system better and more result oriented. 
1. Lack of specification 
What do I mean by this? The common core standards are focussed on Mathematics and English subjects. And even in these two, the guidelines of common core are vaguely stating the skills that students should master at each grade and not exactly the knowledge that needs to be acquired. That mainly depends on the curriculum that every state uses for its schools. 
In all the 40 states that the common core has experimented, the way of teaching is entirely different for all of them. The fact that common core doesn't have specific guidelines, therefore, makes it hard to standardize education in all these states. 

We can't say that if the common core were more direct, it would have definitely worked but maybe it would have made work easier for teachers and administrators. This would have played a big role in helping kids acquire the life skills they are supposed to acquire through the successful completion of their Mathematics and English subjects in high school. 

Common core is limited to a specific standard in only two areas of learning. This may also have affected education since its introduction. 
2. Testing Regimen 

For evaluation purposes, there has to be a form of testing. This puts a lot of pressure on both the teachers and the students to produce favorable results. Teaching to the test is not a very helpful way of teaching. Students are taught with the sole aim of passing the test and not necessarily gaining knowledge on that particular subject. 

As much as common core is aimed at developing analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, it ends up being a read-to-pass kind of method. In this case, it is not any different from the memorization way of learning that the initiative aimed to change. The best way of teaching would be one that focuses more on the growth of the student rather than their performance. 

The tests cannot be removed from the system because there has to be a form of evaluation, but they can be done more practically. A standardized test will have students from some underprivileged regions feeling like failures and that Demoralizes and demotivates them. Teaching students to pass a multiple choice test is not the best way to make a future-ready individual. 

3. The focus is on state and not the student 

When it comes to education, the main focus should be the student because he/she is the one being molded into something better. With common core, there seems to be more focus on the state as compared to the student. 
Performance of states has become the basis to which the states are funded. If a particular state is performing better, they are more likely to get more funds as compared to states that perform poorly. This shifts the focus of everyone involved in implementing common core from focusing on knowledge acquisition to just studying to pass. 

Funding should not be given in terms of which schools do better. That is what should be standardized instead. That way, no school will feel the pressure to make it in the top performers. This will focus more on instilling useful knowledge to those students. This is the kind of knowledge that will help them cope with life better after high school. 

Different states, therefore, do not feel like the common core is a standardizing initiative but one that aims at creating competition among the states. This system also teaches students how to perform while still in school but not how to handle life after school. 

4. Generalizing the standards 

In a country with a multi-cultural population, you cannot standardize something and still claim to support multiculturalism. There is a lot of difference in terms of family structure, wealth and other disparities associated with where a student comes from. It is a good initiative to try an equalize education in a country, but it may not work as expected in all parts of the country. 

A student with little or no access to educational materials such as books needed cannot match the performance of a student with full access to all that. In some parts of the state, there will be students who do not even speak that the English language they are expected to study and proper in. The system should, therefore, integrate Mathematics and language teaching into more applicable forms and maybe it will make more sense to them. 

Students from different social settings cannot be expected to all do the same in tests. Some will perform better than others in particular subjects. With more focus on the students, the system will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student and help them develop useful life skills. 

5. Scrapes off previous methods 

It is important to have a new system in place, but it cannot entirely stand on its own or be perfect. For it to achieve its intended purpose, it has to borrow from other systems and be an improvement of those that previously existed. Common core seems to discourage memorization which used to be a skill before are now discouraged. 

In the real sense, if you memorize something you know it. It is what you know that you use. You cannot use what you do not have in your mind. That is why it should not be entirely discouraged. Failure to that students will only do well in exams, but later in life, they won't have that knowledge with them. There is no point in learning something then forgetting immediately after the test. 

There are many loopholes in the typical core system, and it could be the reason why the students are not being molded as they should. Most of them are not doing well in the stages after high school. A lot of improvement on the part of the system as well as teachers will do good. 

A system that is student-oriented should be fluid and able to fit the needs of the students. It should not coerce them to be equal or to be at a particular standard. The minds of students tend to absorb more when the teaching is practical and involving real-life situations.

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