It was good to see State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher out front defending the Common Core learning standards.
She brought up some good points that critics need to hear, especially that Common Core is a separate issue from testing and teacher evaluations. That’s important because much of the opposition likes to tie these issues together to drive home its own agendas. It shouldn’t be allowed.
Zimpher set the record straight. The standards were not developed by the federal government, nor do they dictate a single curriculum for all school districts.
A coalition of more than 200 colleges and universities from 33 states, including all of the SUNY colleges and universities, gathered to defend the Common Core, which has drawn a huge amount of criticism from parents upset that their kids have to learn something new. But shouldn’t parents want their kids to do better than they did, using new practices that weren’t available a generation ago?
And there are teachers afraid of evaluations based on Common Core. There may be some room for adjusting the evaluation process, but how can progress be measured without evaluations?
Zimpher & Co. broke it down when it comes to the need for the Common Core. As she said, the new standards, which outline what students are expected to know by each grade level, will be a “huge tool” in efforts within post-secondary education in America “to educate more people and educate them better.”
She referred to college administrators who worry that without the Common Core fewer students will be prepared to do college-level work.
Many college students are already starting out behind the eight ball. That has to change. Studies show that 50 percent of students enrolled in two-year colleges must take noncredit remedial programs to catch up. In four-year schools, the figure is 20 percent. Remediation comes at a national annual cost of $7 billion.
Within SUNY, more than 40 percent of students seeking an associate’s degree and about 10 percent of those seeking a bachelor’s degree enroll in remedial coursework. SUNY community colleges spend about $70 million annually on remediation. And studies show that students who have to take remedial courses are less likely to earn a degree and more likely to take longer doing it.
This evidence of our flawed education system should be good enough reason for supporting the Common Core. Digging to truly understand subjects will give students the tools they need to attend college successfully.
The idea of new methods aimed at helping students learn isn’t so different from earlier eras, when homework often left parents puzzled. Educational methods evolve.
When better practices emerge, they should be used. The next generation has to do better, and that is not going to happen by keeping educational standards stuck in time.