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5 myths about rigor and the Common Core

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The Common Core has been a hot topic for quite some time now. Unfortunately, many of the rumblings are based in misunderstandings or vague interpretations of what the standards actually are.

Rigor is one of those widely discussed issues inherent within the Common Core. The term "rigor" has been used in a variety of ways, and as a result many myths have emerged. Rigor is not a negative thing. In fact, who would argue raising the bar for our students? After all, we are preparing our students to compete and be successful in a global economy, right?

The following is a list of the most common myths discussed around what rigor looks like in a Common Core classroom, as well as the realities associated with each, compiled from Middle Web. Click on "view all photos" to read through the list.

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Homework Photo by


Myth: More homework means more rigor.


Reality: All homework isn't necessarily useful. Many times homework is more like busy work. It's work meant for students to practice what they have learned in class independently. Useful? Absolutely. But rigorous? No. The Common Core Standards are  more about depth of knowledge and thinking, not the amount of content "covered."

More work
More work Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images

More work

Myth: Rigor means doing more.


Reality: "Doing more" often means repeating things already done in class. It's practice, which is certainly valuable and necessary. But practice doesn't always mean rigorous. Again, the Common Core require more higher-level, rigorous tasks. Many times it might look like less work, when in reality it will take more thought, reading, research, discussion, etc. to complete the task.

Rigor for all?
Rigor for all? Photo by Robert Benson/Getty Images for Knowledge Universe

Rigor for all?

Myth: Rigor is not for everyone.


Reality: There is a hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) belief that exists out there among teachers that not all students can learn at high levels. While it is true that all students learn differently, and some students have to overcome additional barriers to learning such as learning disabilities, there is also much to be said about the Pygmalion Effect. This denotes that students live up or down to the expectations we set for them. When we set the bar low, students reach that bar but very rarely will surpass it. Rather, if we set the bar high we can support each and every student engage in rigorous tasks.

Support means less rigor
Support means less rigor Photo by Robert Benson/Getty Images for Knowledge Universe

Support means less rigor

Myth: Providing support means less rigor.


Reality: Very often we see accepting help as a sign of weakness. No. Supporting students as they work through rigorous tasks is the definition of rigor. If we are working to get our students college and career ready, we have to put scaffolds in place to get them there. We, of course, will gradually remove those scaffolds across the school year. However, we can't just throw them in the deep end and expect them to swim right off the bat. They are going to need floaties for a bit!

Rigor is resources
Rigor is resources Photo by Robert Benson/Getty Images for Knowledge Universe

Rigor is resources

Myth: More resources equals more rigor.


Reality: Just because a publisher slaps a "Common Core Aligned" sticker on a textbook doesn't mean it is actually more rigorous than a previous edition. We have to be critical consumers. Rather than look for the magic bullet or the easy solution, we have to look at the resources we have and the instructional activities we engage in, and then look at where we can make instructional opportunities more rigorous.