Common Core - Pro

by Michelle Xu

In our world of increasing competition and innovation, there is no doubt that today’s demands are higher than ever. To prepare our current generation of students for these requirements, schools are developing the Common Core State Standards, a set of reforms carefully drafted by teachers and experts across the nation that are designed to help students master a greater understanding of their courses.

The Common Core State Standards are designed to prepare students not only with content, but also with skills. With these reforms, students will know how to apply what they have learned to the real world. After all, what is the point of learning math at school if a student cannot apply the skills to life? The best benefit of Common Core is probably the achievement bar it sets on the schools and students. Common Core gives schools an incentive to reach its standards of achievement year after year.

Despite these benefits, Common Core concepts were received differently by different people. The main concern about Common Core is the effectiveness of the method. Some parents argue that Common Core uses inefficient methods to teach students math. Why teach a student the background behind the concepts of a strategy when they could just memorize it? However, people who hold this opinion are mistaken. Students should not purely memorize concepts before they understand the “why” behind them. By understanding the reason, the students have a solid foundation and could go on to apply the same approach to different problems. If we take this into a real world perspective, no one builds houses before they have a worked-out plan of what to build, right?

We can see Common Core making its mark in improving students’ education today. According to the article “Kentucky Shows Substantial Improvement Since Adopting Common Core” from forstudentsuccess.org, Common Core has helped students in Kentucky prepare for college and beyond, and has increased their readiness from 34% to 62%, a substantial amount.

So yes, Common Core sometimes goes the long way of teaching a concept, but in doing so, it lays a solid foundation for our students. We want America’s future to be bright -- full of determined workers and problem solvers. Common Core is our bridge to reach this goal.

Common Core - Con

by Kelly Zhou

Common Core has been stirring up much debate, from individual student traumas to state rights. But let’s concentrate on the students -- after all, the reforms were made for them to begin with.

According to the new standards, students should come out of their courses with a greater understanding of each subject. Math courses, though previously offering students little in the way of a deeper understanding of how to add or subtract, supposedly now give students a more complicated manner of adding and subtracting that should give them a better understanding of to do it.

However, parents and educators all over the country have become increasingly alarmed as it has become clear that educators are experimenting with Common Core, and their kids are the guinea pigs. According to one freshman at the Orange County School of the Arts, “The teacher doesn’t even know how to teach Common Core, so she just sits in the corner and lets us figure the stuff out so that we can get a ‘better understanding’ of math. And we don’t.”

In New York this spring, the dismal Common Core test scores have hardly been improving, with the Language Arts proficiency rising less than 1 point to 31.3% and the math proficiency rising less than 2 points to 38.1%. And this is only after 20% of students -- the most unenthusiastic of the lot -- opted out of the tests. Had they taken the tests, the score increases would have been even more microscopic.

The truth is, not everyone wants to be a math major. A basic understanding of math is good enough for most people. The majority of Americans have gone through the old education system and emerged with a good enough concept of math to go through their daily lives. Those who have an interest in mathematics may choose to take more advanced courses in college where they garner a better understanding of the concepts, or simply self-study.

But not all students have an aptitude for math, and applying a cookie-cutter solution to a diverse student body is, frankly, like trying to make a T-rex fit into the shape of a scalene triangle. And then asking him to find the number of degrees of each angle.