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Five years after Kentucky became the first state to fully embrace the Common Core, new evidence shows that student achievement there is increasing in most subjects at every grade level. Kentucky’s experience proves that the longer students are exposed to the Common Core, the more likely they are to graduate from high school prepared for the rigor of either college-level classes or the demands of a career.
Move across the map to Arizona and take a look at the Osborn School District. There, fully 90% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Before Common Core, that’s all you would need to hear about a district to know that its test scores were going to be among the lowest in the state. That’s a hard statement, I know, but it’s one that rings true with too many educators who strive day after day to do the best for students in underserved schools. This year, the Osborn district was the only Phoenix-area elementary district where all the schools scored A’s and B’s. The superintendent noted as critical to the students’ success the Common Core’s approach to mathematics and nonfiction readings, in addition to the educators’ commitment to students.
Requiring a new way of teaching, the Common Core has certainly challenged teachers — both young and veteran — to rethink how we approach the material students need to master. To be clear, Common Core does not mandate that we teach a certain way. In fact, my colleagues and I were surprised to find that we had more freedom to construct lessons under the Core.
I saw firsthand how nearly constant relocating disrupted my students academic progress at Langston Chapel. The Common Core calms that chaos by establishing clear guidelines regarding what students are not only to learn but master at each grade level. I know what it’s like to watch a student come into a classroom and realize that they are so far behind their peers that catching up seems impossible. It can be heartbreaking. Education should never be disappointing or filled with anxiety for children. It should free their minds to soar to the highest heights. It should challenge them to work harder and smarter, which is exactly what Common Core does.
I am disappointed that the opposing voices are drowning out the voices from the classroom — the teachers who every day take the Common Core standards and turn them into teaching lessons. Talk of repeal creates confusion and chaos that inhibits students’ academic progress and ultimate success. I implore our legislators to follow the lead of states like Kentucky, New York, and Tennessee, and stay the course with Common Core for the betterment of all our students.
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