Common Core Issues

By: Michael Zacharowicz

The school year just began, and Common Core is getting its first year in high school. After wrecking the creativity of many, through specifically repetitive only-about-the-test work, is this way of teaching appropriate for the high school environment. And if it isn’t, then does it deserve a reform?

Starting implementation in New York State in summer 2011 with the state tests, and 2013 with the rest of the initiative, Common Core has strived to create a system of teaching to prove what the students are expected to learn, by means of end-of-the-year testing. Many schools in the New York Metro area that have taken the state test have flunked. Grades are low all around, and teachers are for the blame, says Carmen Farina and other previous heads of education in New York City.

As a student who went through two years of Common Core, I can safely say that it is mundane and uninteresting. Many of the stories have no effect on academia, and are about a very specific issue, which usually never applies to those reading. Instead of classic works of literature, which teach vocabulary through reading, or allowing one to develop their own questions pertaining to the story, Common Core supplies the questions for you. In every case, they are specific, and often miss the entire point of the passage. One example of Common Core’s problem is the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. The Common Core questions ignore the important moral of “being a nonconformist” and replace it with questions such as “which words rhyme in this poem?” To quote ‘Govinda (’17)’ “I don’t agree with the system. It puts too much pressure on schools to either take the extra money for funding or have student achieve higher grades.” In other words, either schools can get money that they need, or end up closing down [but getting higher student grades from better curricula]. In any case, the initiative strives for end-of-the-year testing, yet the hardships implemented by the initiative result in failing scores. Also, another fault this system has is the grading system. Because it is based on a rubric, the students cannot try to find a different way to answer the issue, only the way preset by the given rubric. This is the main reason why students are becoming uncreative: the rubric. According to Mr. Anonymous [Humanities teacher, not in Brooklyn Tech, did not want name published] “the rubric holds students back from figuring out the essay question response in a unique way.” In conclusion, the initiative stunts creativity.

For all the problems of the system, there are certain benefits. One example is that Common Core has set a baseline. In addition, the tests are equal, and there is no teacher bias. Therefore, one could take a test in any area where the tests are administrated, and get the same grade as anywhere else. Two teachers also weighed in on the discussion. Mr. Kahn (Social Studies) states that the “fewer topics…” of the system allow for “…greater depth” into the given topics. Mr. Allard (Social Studies) also agrees, and thinks that “students should be prepared at each level [of academia] to function well in college.”  The Common Core initiative is fair, but uncreative.

In truth, the initiative deserves a reform. Whereas it is an equal system of learning, it does not teach important skill sets needed for life. It relies on narrow-minded thought, not expansive. If the Common Core system was kept [the equal testing], but the non-important questions removed, then it would be a near-perfect system. If students were allowed to answer not just through a rubric, but through their creativity, many scores would be much higher. Keep the equality, change the answering.

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