There is a great deal of discussion in North Carolina, and throughout the country, about the Common Core State Standards. Some are asking if these are the appropriate standards for our nation's educational system. Others ask if they will provide our students with the needed skills to effectively compete in global markets. And there are those who wonder if these standards include too much testing.
These would be legitimate questions if they were being asked by people who had done their homework and made at least some effort to understand what these standards involve and what they are designed to accomplish. Unfortunately, most people are criticizing something they simply don't understand; which is not an uncommon trait among human beings. It is, however, a dangerous trait in the minds of the wrong people.
The most recent Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitude Toward the Public Schools shows that the American people know little about the origination of the Common Core State Standards and just as little about its contents. The poll shows that just over one third of Americans have ever heard of the Common Core and fewer than half with children in public schools know anything about it. Why then, is this issue so controversial?
The Common Core State Standards were not developed haphazardly. As a matter of fact, discussions on this topic began in 2009 and they were not initiated by the federal government. They came from a partnership between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. More importantly, the idea was to level the playing field in a country where students in one state could be far behind their peers in other states.
The Common Core State Standards are long overdue and we need to accept the fact that if we want our students to compete globally then we need to raise academic standards across the country. We also need to overcome our fear of accountability and acknowledge the fact that it is critical to the success of our students. And yes, testing is part of accountability. All of us are tested in one way or another, and we need to stop using test anxiety or poor test taking skills as an excuse for our failures. The bottom line is simple - testing is part of life. There is no better place to learn this than in school.