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Common Core Standards Come to Western Mass

Education

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Change is coming for schools across Western Massachusetts. A new standard of curriculum is being set, raising the bar not only for students, but for teachers as well.

However, not everyone is on board with the move.

The latest in education reform is called Common Core. It challenges students to rely heavily on critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Supporters believe it will not only create smarter people, but better economics and a better life overall.

Springfield Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick is a supporter of the standards. “A big focus on high order thinking skills, writing skills and literacy throughout the curriculum. I’m a big believer in the Common Core Standards,” he says.

As an example, it used to be that when you were asked a math problem, the answer was black or white, right or wrong.

Now with Common Core, students are going to be asked to break down real life situations.

For instance, you have a recipe for cake that makes 6 servings, but 12 people are coming to dinner and all of them need to get cake.

One student may say you need to double the recipe, show her work, and she would be right.

Another student may say you could cut the servings in half, show his work, and he would also be right.

In the end, it’s all about the application of the math and being able to explain how you got to your answer.

Students, though, won’t be the only ones adapting to the new standards. Common Core is coming to Springfield and Superintendent Warwick recognizes the challenge.

“We are writing all new units, but we have to teach our teachers to teach differently, so our kids will reach these standards,” Warwick explains.

While it may sound good, not everyone is on board.

Tim Collins, President of the Springfield Education Association, fears the city is not ready.

“You don’t have enough time for school districts to adjust to the new curriculum to the new standards. You don’t have enough time to give the professional development to the teachers about a new method of teaching. In the city of Springfield, the new test for the Common Core is going to require every child to take the test on a computer. We don;t even have the resources so that can happen,” Collins says.

And teachers across the country are sounding off online as well.

One teacher from New York says, “It doesn’t allow kids to be kids. Their expectations are insane. Robbing kids of their innocence and preparing kindergartners for college is idiotic.”

Another from California exclaimed, “Many of my fellow teachers either do not know or are in denial about where we are headed! Unfortunately, I cannot continue to be the only ‘rebellious’ one they will simply get rid of me.”

Although Common Core was created to encourage critical thinking and problem solving, for some, the standards themselves appear to be the core of the problem.

In all, 45 states and the District of Columbia have all decided to align with the Common Core Standards. The idea is to unify education on a national level.

In Springfield, they are already beginning to implement the standards.

By fall of 2014, all schools will be teaching to the Common Core Standards.


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