Common Core State Standards
When schools and school districts face the need to re-evaluate and alter their curriculum, the redesign process and rationale for the change must be defined vividly to ensure that there is a critical increase in the performance and achievements of the students. An excellent example of such a difference in curriculum is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) incorporated in K-12 schools in more than forty-six states in the U.S. While student performance and achievement is a crucial outcome of the Common Core State Standards, the successful implementation and benefit from these standards by the teachers is also of equivalent prominence. Thus, this research explored the perceived levels of implementation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools, the concerns emanating from the adoption of the CCSS, and the teachers/administrators’ approaches and solutions to incorporating the standards effectively.
The research questions for this study were:
- What is the current state of Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools in relation to student performance and achievement?
- What are the challenges or concerns in the incorporation in K-12 schools?
- What are the perceptions of the teachers or administrators regarding the challenges of implementing the CCSS in K-12 schools and suitable solutions to these shortcomings?
Literature Review on the Current State of the CCSS in K-12 Schools
According to Vecellio (2013), the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools is recognized as a significant alteration in the curriculum and education sector. The majority of the studies and reports focus on the instructional challenges, especially in the subjects of Mathematics and English in schools, with lip attention accorded to the mental changes required for the successful incorporation of these standards in K-12 schools. Therefore, for teachers or administrators to incorporate the CCSS in K-12 schools successfully, they need to focus both on the instructional alterations and shifts in reckoning required by the CCSS.
Based on the research by Porter et al. (2011), the efforts of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the oversight role of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices set the framework for the formulation and implementation of novel standards in K-12 schools. The objective of this shift in K-12 standards was facilitating coherence and deeper learning. Prior to the advent and adoption of the Common Core State Standards, most schools and school districts had standards with different contents. However, the adoption of the CCSS in K-12 schools led to a situation whereby all the schools in more than forty-six states had standards with similar or coherent content in Language arts, English, and Mathematics (Halladay and Duke, 2013). The previous curriculum was also broad in that it included instructional designs that focused on wholesome learning incorporating almost everything and meager focus on a single subject or learning outcome. The Common Core State Standards narrowed the curriculum and instructional design to foster a more profound discernment of the content by the students in K-12.
Another vital aspect of the CCSS is its focus on informational text when it comes to English. Rather than encourage the answering of questions and representation of student concepts and thoughts that are not founded on writings, the standards emphasize the need for students to base their thoughts, answers, explanations, and discourses on text by providing scholarly evidence and ratifying their perceptions using proper English. Concerning Mathematics, the CCSS require students in K-12 schools to accord more attention to mathematical concepts. In most situations, students are only interested in learning the step-by-step procedures entailed to finding the answer to a math problem without comprehending the basis of the mathematical concept used in formulating the formulae or methods (Santos et al., 2012). It is this trend that the Common Core State Standards aim to change in K-12 schools by ensuring that students have a firm comprehension of mathematical concepts presented in numbers, diagrams, texts, tables, and symbols.
According to the study undertaken by Herman, Linn, and Moss (2013), novel evaluations were established to evaluate the students’ and teachers’ understanding of the Common Core State Standards based on novel technologies and policies. A significant outcome of the evaluations was that teachers, administrators and other stakeholders experience discordant challenges in their incorporation of the CCSS in K-12 schools and assessment of the students’ discernment of the new standards. Key challenges include the fact in as much as considerable time has elapsed since the implementation of the CCSS, the curriculum based on these standards is still in the development stages, and teachers evince inadequate experience and skills in incorporating the CCSS since it entails altering their techniques of delivering instruction for which they were trained. Also, the CCSS require teachers to possess a higher level of cognitive skills. According to Cosmah and Saine (2013), surmounting these challenges will require teachers and administrators to take more time in training and familiarizing themselves with the better ways of incorporating the CCSS in K-12 schools even though there is already a slight improvement in student performance and achievement.
The research design utilized in this research entailed a qualitative approach. This approach consisted of information amassed from secondary sources such as scholarly articles and reports, as well as, the responses of teachers or administrators based on the research questions. The data was analyzed and represented in the form of concerns arising from the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the solutions to these challenges in the incorporation of the CCSS in K-12 schools.
Results and Discussion
Concerns Arising from the Incorporation of the CCSS in K-12 schools
Teachers and administrators are more than convinced that the incorporation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools is a step in the right direction toward improving student performance and achievement. Moreover, since the Common Core State Standards are influenced by the best practices implemented by nations consistently producing top performers in international tests, they are more than ideal in improving students’ comprehension of Language Arts, English and Math concepts. Nonetheless, there are specific concerns that arise from the incorporation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools.
For instance, a significant proportion of teachers was not only trained in the delivery of content based on previous learning systems but has also used these techniques for delivering instruction for a long time. Thus, teachers experience considerable challenges when adapting to and incorporating the Common Core State Standards in their instructional designs. Moreover, since the CCSS entail deeper learning, teachers have to include more information in the curriculum and ensure that the students discern all the concepts comprehensively. Achieving this objective of deeper learning can be demanding given that it requires immense disciplinary knowledge, as well as, expertise as Schmidt (2012) asserts.
As stated in this research, the Common Core State Standards are still at the development stage which means that more time is required for effective implementation and assessment. Administrators and teachers feel that there is pressure to incorporate the CCSS comprehensively and ensure the improvement of student performance and achievement, but limited time for effective planning and collaboration among key stakeholders in the education sector. Another significant challenge emanating from the incorporation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools is resistance to change. Schools that had been performing well before the advent and implementation of the CCSS may be hesitant to alter their instructional designs in fear of the changes affecting their student performance scores and achievements adversely.
Solutions to Implementation Concerns
Practical solutions to concerns arising from the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools require continuous evaluations of the needs and interests of the teachers or administrators. For instance, to address the concern of insufficient time for planning and collaboration, administrators at the school level and school district level need to participate more in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) organized by teachers. The improved participation can improve collaboration and communication between teachers and administrators regarding the best ways of incorporating the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools and improving student performance and achievement. Moreover, changing systems and beliefs that have existed for a long time can be complicated. However, when the process of system change entails collaboration and proper planning, the transition is smoother.
When it comes to addressing the demanding Common Core State Standards, and difficulty in transitioning from the previous curriculum to the new curriculum coherent to the standards, teachers and administrators need to engage in more research and assessment. An institution whereby leaders take into account the needs and concerns of the employees is poised to attain immense success. The same outcome is applicable in K-12 schools whereby administrators need to contemplate the issues and concerns raised by teachers regarding the curriculum change to make the transition process less demanding and stressful.
The fear of resistance to change brought about by the incorporation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools can be solved through increased transparency in communication and instructional design. When all key stakeholders including administrators, teachers, students, and parents have all the information regarding the changes and implications of the CCSS, there will be less resistance to the transition. Moreover, teachers will find it easier to deliver content in using the new instructional designs knowing that the students and parents are aware of the implications of the Common Core State Standards.
The advent and incorporation of the Common Core State Standards represent a significant shift in how teachers deliver and how students discern academic content in K-12 schools. This research provided vital insights into the current state of the incorporation of the CCSS in K-12 schools by teachers and administrators, the concerns arising from this implementation and the solutions to these challenges. Some of the concerns that the teachers and administrators raised include insufficient training and expertise in the delivery of content based on the Common Core State Standards, fear of resistance from key stakeholders in the education sector, demanding transition process and inadequate time. Suitable solutions to address these challenges included increased time for planning and collaboration by participating more in PLCs organized by teachers, improved transparency, and engaging in more research and assessment.
Cosmah, M., & Saine, P. (2013). Targeting digital technologies in common core standards: A framework for professional development. New England Reading Association Journal,48(2), 81-86.
Halladay, J., & Duke, N. (2013). Informational Text and the Common Core State Standards. Quality Reading Instruction in the Age of Common Core Standards,44-58. doi:10.1598/0496.04
Herman, J., Linn, R., & Moss, F. (2013). On the road to assessing deeper learning: The status of Smarter Balanced and PARCC Assessment Consortia.
Porter, A., Mcmaken, J., Hwang, J., & Yang, R. (2011). Common Core Standards. Educational Researcher,40(3), 103-116. doi:10.3102/0013189×11405038
Santos, M., Darling-Hammond, L., & Cheuk, T. (2012). Teacher development to support English language learners in the context of common core state standards.
Schmidt, W. H. (2012). At the Precipice: The Story of Mathematics Education in the United States. Peabody Journal of Education,87(1), 133-156. doi:10.1080/0161956x.2012.642280
Vecellio, S. (2013). How Shall I Teach Thee? Schools,10(2), 222-241. doi:10.1086/673332