Dealing With Common Core Uncertainty

Thursday, September 11, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

Dealing With Common Core Uncertainty

45 states, DC, and various territories, along with the two assessment consortia, were supposed to have fully implemented the Common Core by now. Instead, three states have abandoned the standards altogether, many more have “rebranded” them, and still more have left their testing partners in favor of some home-grown solutions. So after most of a decade, untold amounts spent on materials and trainings, and even more spent on technology infrastructure for the assessments, many states are back at square one. If you’re a teacher, it’s enough to make you pull out your hair. So what can you do? 

Continue to teach like the Common Core 
If you’re a veteran, you remember pre-Common Core pedagogy. Just because your state might be in flux, don’t take that as an opportunity to revert to your old ways.The standards might be controversial, but the ways of work that they espoused for students are sound educational principles that should be aspired to no matter what standards you are using. Students should still be working collaboratively, thinking critically, and practicing higher-order tasks. If you learned any pedagogical tricks during all of those trainings, they are still valid. 

Continue to try new things 
You might be reticent to expand your educational toolbox, fearing that anything new would eventually work against whatever standards your state ends up with. Here’s a secret: standards are 90% the same from state to state. Kids will still need to learn fractions and how to construct a proper sentence. Some controversial things might change (cursive writing appears to be a hot-button issue among the states ditching the Core, for some reason), but the basics will still be the basics. So, if you find a new lesson idea for a topic in which you typically struggle, don’t fear trying it. Chances are, it will still be useful. 

Stop following standards news 
Although there’s nothing wrong with being a well-informed citizen, especially during this election year, I recommend not paying attention to any news about the standards that might come down from your state capital. For most of the states in flux, what’s done is done. No amount of advocacy will bring the Common Core back. Anything that does happen is years away from appearing in your classroom—which is where your focus should be. Don’t stick your head in the sand, but trust that if anything mission-critical comes down, you’ll hear about it through the usual channels. Use the time you would have spent trolling through websites and being frustrated by the shortsighted nature of politics to do something worthwhile.