Hot Topic of the Week

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by Jennifer Dermer

There are so many things happening around the U.S. in education, from the teacher strikes in Chicago to the new Common Core State Standards Initiative, it’s hard to choose just one topic.  As my blog will be weekly, talking about what’s hot in education around the country, I chose to start with the Common Core State Standards initiative, even though the teacher strike in Chicago is pretty timely, as this is probably one of the largest reform initiatives we’ve seen in a long time or ever.

We can’t ignore the fact that the U.S. is behind in many aspects of education compared to other countries, most notably, Asia and some countries within Europe.  Therefore, different states saw the need to do something so that our students can become more competitive in a increasingly globalized world.  The Common Core State Standards website gives a really good explanation (in my opinion) about what these standards are, who developed them, and how they will be enforced.  This information can be found here:

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages of adopting new standards.  For example, new standards mean adopting new programs, text books, etc. at a time when many of the district budgets are being cut.  It can also mean extensive training for the teachers so that they are able to implement these new standards effectively.  Then, how do we know if the new standards are actually working?  Well, that would mean revising all the testing programs out there so they can effectively test all the new skills the students are learning.  Is it worth it?

It basically comes down to the implementation of these standards.  There’s a lot more than just teaching that goes into making highly competitive students.  Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and Economy has written about this exact topic back in May.

He talks about how there are so many different levels of implementing these standards that teaching them is just one small aspect of it.  In order to make them work and work well, the states, teachers, parents and students need so much support from many different aspects that I don’t think we will see immediate results.

As new information comes out about the standards, who is adopting them, etc., I will continue writing about them.  I think this could be a great step for our education system, however, that will depend on how it is done.