Anchored to the Core

The Common Core Standards, as I have said before, whether here or elsewhere, most definitely will increase the rigor of education throughout the United States.  I have no doubt about that.  They will push academic expectations possibly passed what is developmentally appropriate.

But that standard of achievement has been broken for decades.  When I was in kindergarten 40 years ago I recall only a handful of students who could read by the end of the year.  Now the expectation is that students will be reading at least a few words when they enter K.  If they can’t they are already behind.  Who determined the developmental appropriateness of that giant leap?  I don’t know but kindergarten parents have risen to that challenge.

Or have they?  In 1972 and for at least a couple decades after that, the starting age for beginners was five by the end of January.  Wow!  You could still be four in many places until after Christmas and still be in school.  Now the standard in most states is September 1 or the first day of school. That’s up to five months difference.  In addition, and possibly thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliersparents of means very well may keep there children out of school for a year if they are born in the spring or summer months.  Read Gladwell for an explanation.  I reiterate, people of means.  People on the other end of the spectrum of affluence may not have the luxury of keeping there children at home for another year.  Child care is expensive.  That puts our poor students that I spoke of last week at an even bigger disadvantage of possibly 16 months.

Now back to the point.  When the common core is fully in place the expectations of proficiency in kindergarten will be heightened once again.  Without regards to where you came from, what you already know, how many words you have heard in your short life, what experiences you carry into the classroom, or the education level of your mother. And every year we will be pushing further and further past the current expectations.   Again without regard to any of the above plus identified learning disabilities, capacity for learning, or mental health issues.

If all of that isn’t enough.  We are going to do it all SIMULTANEOUSLY! By that I mean it won’t be scaffolded through the grades from K-6 with a possibility of seven years to advance through the levels. Every grade will be responsible for meeting proficiency on grade level Common Core standards in 2014.

Its hard for me to give an example based on the standards because you would have to be familiar with both the Common Core Standards and the Pennsylvania Academics Standards to know exactly where the gaps are.  I can give you an analogy though:

Your school district is required to write a novel by the end of the year.  Your school district will be evaluated on the quality of the writing in your district’s novel.  Every grade level starting in kindergarten will be responsible for one chapter.  Every school district in the state will have a thirteen chapter book.  Sounds like an awesome project!  Problem is, everyone has to write at the same time.  Oh, yeah, we’ll give you some context.  Let’s say the story is about Little Red Riding Hood.  That’s fair.  Now write.  No, sixth grade, you can’t know where fifth grade left off!  Fifth grade didn’t know the content that fourth grade produced.  And only the student and teacher’s in the kindergarten classes know where the story began.

But the Core has become the Anchor

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