Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Common Core Standards: Not a Silver Bullet for Education

by Sara Slaughter, Education Program Director

Long-time McCormick grantee Sam Meisels, President of the Erikson Institute, challenges us to look beyond the “panacea” of educational standards in his op ed, "Tripping over the Stairs in the Race to the Top: The Common Core and Early Childhood." He reminds us of what all athletes know: if you start a new sport or exercise with a physical challenge that is too great–one for which you have not spent time preparing–you will not succeed. In fact, you might give up, or worse yet, hurt yourself. We can’t afford to make that mistake in educating our children.

Dr. Meisels, a national expert in assessments for young children, points out that standards are indeed essential for both teaching and assessing children of all ages. But while many in the education field pin all their hopes for fixing our education system on the implementation of Common Core Standards, Dr. Meisels cautions us that they are not a silver bullet and in fact, they need to be modified. Standards should be coupled with sound professional development and assessments. Even more important, the Common Core Standards themselves must take into account the developmental issues of our youngest children. Standards must look beyond cognitive skills and acknowledge the importance of social emotional skills. Those are the skills that allow teens to turn off X-Box Live to study for tests and the skills that help kids stick with a math problem, even when it is really hard.

Children who encounter "stairs" that are too big—too unrealistic—and teachers who are not prepared to coach young children to meet new challenges, are a formula for losing any race. We can't afford for our children—or their teachers—to give up.

Related Link:
Common Core standards pose dilemmas for early childhood (Washington Post)

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