It has happened countless times before; a family is forced to move across the country at the most inconvenient time, right in the middle of the semester. The children are to be transferred to a new school, in a new town, in a new state, smack-dab in the middle of ongoing curriculum units. How many times has it worked out that the unit the school is covering, say in the fifth grade, is the same unit as the one at the previous school?
A student transfer, even in-state, often within their district, finds the expectations, or standards, are vastly different that than what was expected at a previous school. The child will therefore either repeat previously taught material, thus wasting educational time, or must frantically try to get caught up to the new fifth grade class, resulting in gaps in the educational process.
These gaps can have long-term consequences.
States have long developed their own standards, per grade level, and school districts, even individual schools, adopt those standards and often add their own or amend the states' established standards. Even well-established state standards are often vague, indistinct and, not strictly adhered to.
Different standards being met at different times, in different ways, and emphasizing different aspects of education, can lead to a very confused set of standardized educational outcomes.
Welcome to the Common Core.
Administrators, teachers, researchers, and educational specialists saw that there is little commonality among states regarding the expected standards for different grade levels from kindergarten to high school. They tried to fix that.
These educational professionals took state standards that work well, aligned them with expectations for college and career success, and adopted them into the core of the states' common standards.
Many of the current standards of the top-performing nations, districts and schools were improved upon. These Common Core standards are redefining what is best for all students.
The emphasis of these Common Core standards is a consistent, clear and cohesive understanding of what students are expected to learn. With these established common standards parents and teachers, as well as students, are clear about what the standards of success are. The aim is a consistency across all states.
Of course, teachers still have their freedoms regarding how the material is taught, and schools and districts may adopt different materials and textbooks to achieve those common core standards, but, for example, the fifth grade set of standards for expected learning outcomes and for a year's progress are the same across the nation.
Imagine that a child has to attend a new school in a new town, but that instead of finding herself thrown into in a new, unexpected curriculum, there is a common, consistent understanding of what is expected in her fifth grade class. It's like the standards of her former school, and her new school, are the same. She feels prepared and confident heading into the rest of her semester.
Dave Romine teaches English at Colorado Springs Early Colleges and Pikes Peak Community College.