Broadly, there has been much controversy over the involvement of the federal government in the public education system since the institution of the Department of Education in the U.S. This problem arises from the establishment of the Common Core standards. By definition, Common Core refers to a public education initiative underwritten by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Common Core Standards were modeled to endorse standards-based education reform to ensure state education curriculum aligns with standards implemented in other states as stipulated by the federal government (Bigham 45). Even though the majority of states have begun the adoption of the Common Core Curriculum, there seem to be issues that threaten the nationwide implementation of the Common Core standards. In the state of Missouri, the Common Core has brought much controversy, and opponents have differed with the standards for various reasons, including intrusion of the federal government and the concern for the collection and mining of students. Thus, on the premise of drawbacks and shortcomings, the State of Missouri should not implement the Common Core Curriculum for all public and private K-12 educational institutions.
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The first reason why Common Core standards should not be adopted is the fact they homogenize learning. Public educators and politicians seem to consistently bring the arguments of centralization as a means to restructure the disadvantages of the American education system (Center on Education Policy). The residents of states adopting Common Core will be troubled to find schools with relative advantages to benefit their children. The implementation means that not only will the public school be made as uniform as home schools, but private and church schools will be required to consider using the Common Core curriculum (VanTassel-Baska 5). In its adoption, students in private schools will not be forced to administer Common Core tests, but need to consider a section of their curriculum to prepare students for reforms in the assessments, which are crucial for college qualifications (Dueck 52). Moreover, teachers and public educators acknowledge the fact that students have different ways of learning, and therefore, the education system in place should strive to address these needs. By instituting the Common Core standards, the needs of students with learning disabilities may not be addressed.
The Common Core curriculum is a depiction of a top-down approach to reforming the education system. This program is based on grade-by-grade specifications for what, how, and when it should be taught. Throughout history, several top-down reforms have not improved the American education system. Long-time educators in the United States are familiar with the unfulfilled promises aimed at promoting efficacy, only to leave waste of administrative requirements, changes in curriculum, and new assessment standards (Akkus 49). For instance, this is evident in a 2018 report by the Rand Corporation investigating the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Initiative (National Education Association). The initiative involved four charter management organizations and three school districts, where each used assessment criteria and trained observers. Nonetheless, the report indicated that the program was not successful despite running for several years and costing nearly a billion dollars (Vegel 27). In another instance, the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) followed a top-down approach as it was initiated by Congress (Vegel 28). Instead of using a top-down approach, ideal education reform should be community-based in that it entails the application of different instruction methods and programs.
Common Core standards should not be considered as they lead to discrimination against students from low-socioeconomic regions of the U.S. Such values do not live up to their expectations as they undermine the overall American education system to its lowest dominator (Guillory 667). The disparities that exist in the country in regards to minority, ethnicity, and race mean that some students will be unable to receive the same learning-rich resources, same quality teaching, or same learning experiences (Guillory 668). Moreover, the adoption of Common Core also facilitates the formation of two American classes, that is, those able to pass the national test, and those unable not to. Thus, it closes the door for the disadvantaged, minorities, and the middle class from securing a good job in the math and science domains leaving jobs to those residing in wealthy and privileged communities. Although the curriculum could establish a high bar for Missouri students, it does not provide the required schools and teachers with the needed financial support necessary to assist millions of American students.
Common Core curriculum should not be adopted as it confers exclusive power to standardized assessments and tests. Majorly, the Common Core is intertwined with standardized tests, not because the American College Test (ACT) and the College Board had a huge involvement in their development (Center on Education Policy). It was evident from their creation that they play a big role in the teacher evaluation, a requisite for applying for Race to the Top funds. The Department of Education has provided 300 million dollars for the development of these tests (Starkenburg 14). The assessments will provide functioning reality to the Common Core, by in fact becoming the standards, and there will be marginal incentive to teach untested skills. Additionally, they will put immense pressure on the state of Missouri to implement interim tests. The standardized tests are not suitable to evaluate the expressive, writing, and speaking abilities of students. Even though there exist standards that support the Common Core, they are not likely to be tested in a complex or serious way.
The Common Core standards present a challenge for special education. Within its confines of standards and skills, the Common Core does not consider the fact that several American students experience a level of difficulty with numeracy and literacy which makes it impossible for them to attain such standards (Rakow). Lee and Lee claim that the curriculum is not suitable for special students as it does not provide for collaboration, individualization, and a required level of the prospectus for learners, hampering progress in American schools (31). Even though the Common Core standards are aimed at ensuring academic attainment in the American system, it has been said that the curriculum does not consider the learning requirements of some students. This shortcoming is evident in the assessment of special education involving custom-built instruction, assessments, and learning outcomes to meet the need for special learning. Teachers in special education have tussled with adapting the Common Core test that meets the learning styles and needs of students with disabilities.
Students with special needs learn according to Individualized Educations Programs (IEPs) developed by parents and teachers. These programs outline the type of adaptive technologies needed by students. According to public educators and teachers, the adoption of the Common Core standardized test is bound to create problems (Starr and Weiss). For instance, the current special education tests have differed from the classroom experiences of special education students. This results from the fact that special students have been unable to perform well on Common Core tests since they are rapidly needed to learn technologies that may not ascribe to their learning needs. In addition to this issue, teachers have also struggled with the nature of Common Core tests in that it has been difficult for a teacher to meet the instructional needs of the special student while still considering the stipulated curriculum (Krakow 21). It should be noted that students with disabilities require more time for various reasons such as the speed of adaptive technologies and cognitive impairments. Common Core standards highlight grade-level criteria despite students with disabilities needing more, and thus, in their achievement, the gap is widened.
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Assessments under the Common Core standards are considered difficult as they require using technology not conversant with student proficiency and do not emphasize important content. Even though most educators acknowledge that using separate state tests is an ineffective means of assessing the literacy levels of students, there is no consensus on using an alternative (National Education Association). The new Common Core assessments depict a clear direction in the course of performance-based items, requiring more effort to complete from the student perspective and are more open-ended. Nonetheless, it is not clear how American students will perform under the implementation of new assessment tests. Most states have shown their concerns about the student performance levels with the adoption of Common Core assessments. Evidence from New York has indicated that students in their state have comparatively lower performance levels (Giray and Oare 32). On the other hand, the earlier state standards on education used to have a higher level of performance for students. In this regard, teachers and educators require ample time to adjust instructions of the Common Core curriculum.
Common Core curriculum should not be a consideration for the State of Missouri as it represents a takeover of education by the federal government, a move leading to a standardized curriculum. Common Core bids to standardize the learning system in America in various developmental stages in key subject areas (Starr and Weiss). However, it does not portray the attempts of the federal government to decree what teachers and students understand on how learning should occur. The standards are the framework within which instruction and curriculum are designed. Conservatives and public educators have criticized the Common Core because of its emphasis on standardization which has been attributed to a federal takeover (Ellspermann 15). Similarly, opponents have criticized the CCSS on the premise of standardization, but they imply that it may not address the individual attention of students. There is a necessity to be concerned about the degree to which standardization addresses the needs of individual adaptations. The position of the gifted community has been to apply the standards and adjust for individual differences in classroom projects and activities.
Another reason why Common Core should not be implemented is that few experienced teachers were involved in the establishment of the standards. The Common Core has been criticized as it resulted from the efforts of corporate executives, politicians, or educators who are not familiar with the needs of American schoolchildren (Starkenburg). The summits that led to the induction of the standards are believed not to consider the crucial expertise of educators. Karen Effrem, an educationist, explains how classroom teachers were not involved in the drafting process (Dueck 30). She further points out that even though teachers were allowed to provide feedback and comments during the development process, there was no evidence that their comments were revised by the committee (Dueck 52). The involvement of K-12 teachers was crucial to this process as they possess substantial information on student needs.
Importantly, the Common Core curriculum, through its rigorous system, creates a challenge for the early childhood curriculum in America. By emphasizing grade-level skills, the standards have put immense pressure on teachers in primary and early childhood levels to instruct on the application of paper-and-pencil methods, instead of using experiential approaches (Guillory 670). The assessment and evaluation of children’s performance have been described as expensive as the continuing budget concerns mean that the funds for professional development in the early childhood curriculum and the components of its program are hard to come by (Dueck 68). Regarding early childhood curriculum, there emerges a problem since early childhood curriculum is not regulated or funded in the same means as other K-12 institutions as its providers include private organizations, state-funded programs, and home-based daycare organizations. The inadequacy to address the development needs has serious repercussions for social, creative, cognitive, and emotional operationality.
While it is important to address the shortcomings of implementing the Common Core curriculum in the State of Missouri, the discussion would be partial without considering the potential benefit that would result from its adoption. The standards are designed to be in alignment with college expectations, employers, and workforce training programs, thus, striving toward a productive American economy (Starkenburg). Despite the claims of discrimination, the Common Core standard upholds equity and uniformity by ensuring that American students are sufficiently prepared to interact and compete with their cohorts in the country and abroad. Contrary to the previous standards which broadly varied from state to state, Common Core calls for the collaboration among states on a variety of policies and tools (Vegel 28) For instance, the development of common inclusive assessment systems that substitute the present state testing systems to offer teachers with quality feedback to help ensure students conform to the standards (Ellspermann 17). The Common Core curriculum provides students and teachers with a set of expectations in ensuring that all American students have the required skills to succeed in school.
In general, it has been ten years since the unveiling of the Common Core standards and their adoption by various states in their curriculum programs. However, the standards have been met with a lot of controversy from different states, organizations, public educators, parents, and teachers for a variety of reasons. As highlighted in the discussion, the State of Missouri should not adopt the Common Core curriculum into its K-12 private and public institutions due to various reasons. These include homogenizing the American system through the adoption of a uniform set of standards, representing a top-down approach that ultimately leads to policy failure, discriminates against the students from the low-socioeconomic regions of the country, it confers exclusive power to standardization of assessment and tests, it poses a substantial challenge for special students and student with disabilities by not considering their needs, it is deemed as difficult and requires proficiency, and it is also described as a form of the federal takeover on education system. Common Core standards are described to provide students and teachers with a set of expectations in ensuring that all American students have the required skills to succeed in school.
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