All about Common Core, ahead of On Tap tonight in OKC
Tonight, KOSU hosts our monthly discussion series On Tap at Picasso Cafe in Oklahoma City’s Paseo District. The focus of this month: Common Core. Those are the new standards going into place in nearly every state across the country. Ahead of the discussion, a brief rundown. And to read KOSU’s stories on Common Core, click here.
What is Common Core?
The National Governors Association was behind the reform, first unveiling them in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009. They are designed to adjust what students are expected to learn, reflecting a changing society. In an ideal world, they’ll prepare students for colleges and careers, challenging students to develop a deeper level of understanding and critical thinking.
How will things change inside the classroom?
That’s up for debate. Some teachers say they’ll be a dramatic shift, others downplay any significant change. Teachers will become more facilitators, and teachers are getting encouraged to allow the students to have a “positive struggle” with material, so they can better absorb it and work it out on their own. Whatever the case, it’s important to recognize that the standards do not dictate curriculum. Rather, they set the standards, and teachers are supposed to have the freedom to determine how to get their students to that point.
Who is in favor of Common Core?
Democrats and Republicans have largely stood behind the standards, as well as the business community. They argue it will standardize tests across the country: companies and educators will have certainty knowing that students are developing the same level of thinking skills.
Who stands opposed to the changes?
In Oklahoma, the group Restore Oklahoma Public Education, or ROPE, argues they are unfunded mandates that aren’t about students in the classroom, but rather the education industry. Oklahoma House Speaker TW Shannon (R-Lawton), shares their view, and has called Common Core a federal intrusion. But there’s also complaints from those in education, saying the standards were developed without the input of those in the classroom.
When would they go into effect?
Students will start to be tested on Common Core standards in the 2014-2015 school year (Oklahoma has stepped out of the PARCC assessment temporarily, and State Superintendent Janet Barresi says the state will develop its own). Field tests may be conducted this spring to help test makers develop effective test questions. But the transition to lesson plans that fit Common Core standards has already started in many school districts.
That’s the basics. To go more in-depth, join us tonight. We’ll have experts from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Oklahoma PTA on hand, taking your questions. More details here.