Common Core: Growing Pains

In California — as in 45 of the 50 states, Washington D.C., and four territories — the Common Core curriculum, the project of defining what knowledge and skills all students should have up to grade 12, is being implemented.


Criticism of the program is aimed in many directions with the strongest complaints in the areas of teacher training, development of materials and technological improvements needed in order to implement the tests.

The basic standards of the Common Core:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society
  • Are evidence based

In 2010, California adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). By 2012, curriculum had been developed for classroom use. Locally in Silicon Valley, schools are beginning the adoption of the Common Core. Schools have abandoned the traditional STAR Test and will begin to implement CCSS testing next year.

One of the top complaints was that schools have not allocated funds or time for teacher training. According to one teacher from Alum Rock Union Elementary School in San José, Calif., only two teachers from her school were sent for training on the Common Core, but they were not given any time to share the material with the other teachers. She said, “It was great for me, but everyone else isn’t prepared.”

Another speed bump the program has met is each individual state’s inability to allocate funds. Those states that received Race to the Top grants ($4.35 billion in funds allocated by the United States Department of Education to spur innovation and reforms in education) expect to reach program implementation sooner. But those states that did not receive the grant are still struggling.

Preparing for college and the jobs of the future is a constantly shifting plain. It is unclear if the Common Core will meet the needs of the employers of the future, especially if implementation of the standards is a decade-long process.

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