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Common Core has potential


The U.S. education system rating is severely declining when compared to other countries around the world. According to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. has fallen 10 spots in the rankings for high school and college graduation rates in the last three decades.

This is clearly not a statistic to be proud of and serves as the motivation for the Common Core State Standards Initiative for kindergarten through 12th-grade education. While Common Core may not be perfect yet, with time and various re-evaluations, it has the ability to serve as an efficient means for improving the education system in the U.S.

According to the FAQ page on the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, the main purpose of Common Core is to develop a state-led effort with a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. It is not a national school board. The goal of the standards is to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared and given an equal opportunity to enter the workforce or a two- or
four-year college program.

The option for states to adopt Common Core Standards started in 2010, and since then, 45 states have accepted it. The states that have adopted Common Core are currently working to develop common assessments that align with standards to replace existing end-of-year state assessments, such as Florida’s FCAT.

Right now, Common Core is receiving a lot of heat from critics because the standardized test has not proved to be an efficient way of evaluating a student’s success. For example, according to Fox News, New York administered its own standardized tests in alignment with the Common Core Standards and only 31 percent of third through eighth grade students in New York were deemed adept.

It would be unfair to fail students who have not had Common Core throughout their education with the assessment; this is where the re-evaluation is necessary to make it successful. For the first few years, the emphasis has to be on the curriculum, not the assessment.

Students should still be required to take the assessment, but only so it can be revised and used as a representation of the effectiveness of the curriculum. Passing scores should start low for the first few years, and gradually rise as the curriculum takes effect.

The assessment is expected to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year, and while it seems it needs a lot more revision based on the New York example, the initiative has to start eventually. When all the states have been brought up to the standard, then the emphasis on passing rates for a standardized assessment can be implemented.

The most important aspect of Common Core is its ability to level out the playing field for students across the country. Common Core was written based on the best and highest state standards, and no states were asked to lower their standards. The expectation is to bring all states up to the highest level, giving students the opportunity to receive the best education. It would be unfair to take that option away from them.

Common Core has strong potential to close education gaps across the U.S. by providing an equal quality curriculum with standards to boost the education and graduation rates across the nation. It can only be expected to have a rocky start based on these gaps, but until the initiative gets started, it will never have the potential to be successful.