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Playlist: Common Core

Compiled By: PRX Editors

Curated Playlist

Pieces for American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen that focus on issues relating to Common Core standards.

For more pieces relating to the dropout crisis, see our American Graduate playlist.

A Breakdown of Common Core (Series)

Produced by WBFO

This series breaks down the Common Core learning standards.

Most recent piece in this series:

The Future of Common Core

From WBFO | Part of the A Breakdown of Common Core series | 05:48


The debate over the Common Core learning standards has recently sparked a great deal controversy with many giving input on what’s best for students. In her final installment- reporter Ashley Hirtzel (HURTZ-UHL) discusses what the future holds for Common Core.


“We need to get this right for students, parents, teachers and principals. We cannot walk away from the basic tenancy of this reform and anything that is done to water this down quite frankly stands the real risk of denying students in this state the opportunity that we are all fighting for them to have,”


That’s Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch talking about the importance of education reform on ‘The Capitol Press Room.’ Tisch says everyone must work together in order to offer students the best education possible. But, in order to move forward with Common Core many say changes must be made.


“For the state to give standardized tests, which many people think are developmentally inappropriate, put all sorts of pressure on kids, don’t measure creativity, critical thinking, and all the things we think are important. That’s what the problem is, the problem is the testing of our kids, not so much the evaluation,”


Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore says the State Education Department must make changes to their standardized tests before moving forward.   State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin of Clarence   agrees with the union leader.


“One of the biggest promotions we have in this report is taking a good hard look at all the testing that all students are having and making sure we’re not over testing them,”                      


Corwin says republican assembly members recently issued a report that comes up with solutions to issues with Common Core. The findings are titled ‘At The Educational Crossroads – A Report On Education Reform Efforts In NYS’ Corwin says their changes include restoring school funding, involving teachers in curriculum development and giving parents a choice when it comes to data sharing.


“Allowing parents the ability to make the decision whether or not their student’s data would be made available to a third party. There are a lot of concerns with Common Core with all of the data collection. It’s all being filtered up to the federal level that some of that student data is being used inappropriately. So, we want to make sure parents have the ability to make the decision not to do that,”


Amherst Central Schools Superintendent Laura Chabe suggests the state invest in professional development for educators. Chabe says it will help ease the Common Core implementation process.


“I think that the face that State Education Department has come out and recognized that is wonderful. So now I’m hopeful that perhaps our legislators and our governmental agencies will recognize that not only does that take time, but it’s costly,”


Chabe says she hopes the state introduces the Common Core science and social studies curriculum soon. She says teachers in the district would like to start preparing students for the state assessments in those subjects. 


“We’re a school district where our kids have been relatively successful on those exams, so they’re a little bit anxious. So, I guess when we met with the state I would encourage them to make sure those are going to be available to get those rolled out,”


“I think it’s fair to say about Common Core that we all agree that we need real standards for our students, a meaningful teacher evaluation system. I support the common core agenda, but the way the Common Core has been managed by the board of regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety,”


Governor Andrew Cuomo says parents, teachers and students deserve the best education reform that includes Common Core and teacher evaluations, but they also need a rational, well administered system. He plans to have a panel of education experts, business people, and lawmakers investigate the rollout of the learning standards…


“Let’s get recommendations for corrective action by the end of this session. Let’s pass a package of corrective actions by the end of this session and let’s end the anxiety that the parents, teachers, and students are feeling all across this state,”


Regent’s Chancellor Merryl Tisch says a subcommittee of the state Board of Regents will continue to come up with ways to help with the implementation of the learning standards. She believes the information the subcommittee provides will help the governor’s panel.


“I don’t see the Regent’s subcommittee or the governor’s panel as competing entities. I see the Regent’s subcommittee’s report as a tool which will help the governor and the legislature find a productive and purposeful path for moving forward,”


However, Congressman Brian Higgins feels a solution to the “rushed” rollout of Common Core is delaying implementation of the standards for two years.


“I think the delay that’s being sought is justified, because you can’t implement a comprehensive reform without being prepared to do it as effectively and as efficiently as possible toward achieving the objective. All you have now is parents that are frustrated, students that are frustrated,  and teachers that are frustrated as well,”


But, New York State Education Commissioner John King says a delay would stop progress districts are experiencing with Common Core. He says there may be disagreements about implementation and the teacher evaluation law, but the Common Core standards themselves are beneficial to students…


“So there are adjustments that we’re making and well continue to make those adjustments, but we’re committed to the Common Core, because we know that it’s a path to having more of our students prepared for college and career success. Frankly, all the education stakeholders across the country and New York remain committed to the Common Core,”


Regent’s Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett echoed King saying the state will continue to tweak the standards as necessary and advise the legislature about changes to the teacher evaluation law.


“As long as we can have a civil discussion and debate, and say that ‘what’s out ultimate goal here.’ I hope that we have consensus on the ultimate goal is a high school graduate in New York State that’s prepared for a career and or college,”


But, Republican Congressman Chris Collins says he feels the state needs to admit Common Core is a failure. Collins want the Common Core ended immediately.


“I think we need to just go back and take the federal government out of mandates telling teachers how to educate our kids. I frankly don’t think the state should play much of a roll, but under states rights them more so than the federal government. We should go back to teachers and school boards making the decision on how best to educate the kids in that particular school district and they’ll always do what’s best for the kids,”


As for what the future really holds for the Common Core learning standards everyone will have to wait and see….


“We need to look at what’s good and keep that and enhance that and we have to look at things that are not working in the classrooms and find ways to fix that, to remediate it and approve it.”


East Aurora High School history teacher and parent Todd Hathaway has been outspoken against Common Core. But Hathaway was selected to serve on the Governor’s review panel.   Hathaway says the bottom line is the state needs to “fix” Common Core.

Getting to the Common Core

From New Visions, New Voices | Part of the Education Matters with Pedro Noguera series | 02:28

Common core standards have been adopted by 44 states across the country, but questions remain about its implementation. A fourth-grade math and science teacher asks Education Matters contributor Dr. Pedro Noguera how the new standards will make our children more competitive, and whether there are universal guidelines to teaching the new curriculum.


Common core standards have been adopted by 44 states across the country to help expose all children to a rigorous curriculum, regardless of the jurisdiction they live in. But questions remain about its implementation. With students and teachers still confused about the new standards, a fourth-grade math and science teacher asks Education Matters contributor Dr. Pedro Noguera how common core standards will make our children more competitive, and whether there are universal guidelines to teaching the new curriculum.

The Sound of Ideas: Common Core Update

From WCPN | Part of the StateImpact Ohio series | 01:01:20

Ohio is getting closer to full implementation of new minimum learning standards shared with most other states known as the Common Core. Next year, computerized Common Core tests will replace the state's standardized tests. As that draws closer, there are still many questions, some apprehension and a healthy dose of criticism. Mike McIntyre and his guests address them all.

Comcor_small Chad Aldis, vice president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy
Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta
Terrance O. Moore, assistant professor of history, Hillsdale College (MI)
Amy Hansen, reporter, StateImpact Ohio

Common Core & Latino Education

From New Visions, New Voices | Part of the Education Matters with Pedro Noguera series | 01:45

While addressing the government’s involvement in supporting school reform for Latino students, Dr. Pedro Noguera highlights the common core standards of policy reform and their effects. Local educators, parents, and community members shape the discussion with questions that matter.

Common_core_and_latino_education_small While addressing the government’s involvement in supporting school reform for Latino students, Dr. Pedro Noguera highlights the common core standards of policy reform and their effects.  Local educators, parents, and community members shape the discussion with questions that matter.

How the Common Core is Changing How Kids Learn in English Class

From WCPN | Part of the StateImpact Ohio series | 03:22

Ohio schools are teaching to a new set of math and English standards called the Common Core. For English classes, the Common Core means students spend less time with storybooks and more time with non-fiction texts. StateImpact Ohio’s Molly Bloom reports.


Teacher Karen Hazlett’s fourth graders spent much of this fall learning about child labor – during English class.

Hazlett teaches in Akron’s Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts. This is her 34th year in the classroom.

And until recently, child labor probably would not have been a central topic in fourth grade English. Instead, Hazlett’s students would have read mostly fiction, and answer questions about their opinions on plot and characters.

But Hazlett says one of the biggest changes with the new Common Core English standards is a greater emphasis on non-fiction material.

“It used to be maybe 20-30 percent of our teaching was non-fiction and now it’s 50 [percent] or more,” she says. “That’s a huge difference.”

The new standards are tougher than Ohio’s old standards, Hazlett says, and they require students to analyze writing more deeply.

She has the Common Core standards for today’s lesson posted on her chalkboard and reads them aloud to me:

“Integrate information from two topics, explain the reasons using evidence, looking for details, drawing inference, drawing conclusions, main idea…”

Hazlett’s students have already read a series of articles about child labor, written at perhaps a sixth or seventh grade level – higher than what they would have encountered a few years ago.

Today, she has them work together in pairs to draw some conclusions from what they’ve read.

As she talks to her students, the phrase you hear over and over again is “cite evidence.”

“You are going to use the text and support your answer with evidence,” she tells them. “Where in the text did you get that idea what is one important new thing you have learned from reading these texts? Why is that information new? What is one thing you think differently about how that you have read these texts? Cite evidence.”

Pairs of students pore over the photocopied articles.

Teaching these young kids to work with factual evidence, to find specific facts to support their opinions, is a big change, Hazlett says.

“I’ve been teaching a long time, and I was like why didn’t we think of that before? It helps them focus on the text,” she says.

Other English classes in Akron are studying topics like CSI-style forensic anthropology, space exploration and food safety. The lessons are part of Common Core-aligned units developed by the University of Pittsburgh.

Akron teacher Anna Panning’s fifth graders are learning about space exploration.

“It’s really rigorous,” Panning says. “I sortof have them pumped up with, ‘This is going to be tough but we can do it.’ But they’re really enjoying it. And they love the topic.”

Bills to void Ohio’s adoption of the Common Core are pending in the Ohio House and Senate. But Akron English curriculum supervisor Toan Dang-Nguyen says she hasn’t heard any complaints from parents.

Akron began introducing the Common Core to Akron teachers three years ago.

Since then, the district has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like new materials and substitutes so teachers can attend Common Core training.

“It’s here are the standards, here’s a model unit, here’s some training to see what you can do with those standards,” Dang-Nguyen says. “We’re not just sending them off and saying good luck.”

She says the long phase-in may mean that teachers and students will have fewer surprises when the new Common Core-aligned tests start next school year.