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Sunshine State News: Common Core: Extraordinary Solution to All-Too-Common Problem

Thursday, June 27, 2013

By Ed Moore

It is time to “Raise the bar!” I keep frequently seeing commentary from pundits that questions the need for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and from some, the specter of federal government intrusion into educational matters.

I am not really clear on their thought processes since the arguments they put forth tend to be more anti-government in nature rather than based in the realities of educational standards. Frankly, the U.S. is losing the educational race and the new standards are designed to get us back on track — by setting base levels of knowledge that every student should learn, know and retain.

Common assessments and curriculum afford educators and policymakers the opportunity to compare. The curriculum is not being prescribed — the bar for knowledge is just being set. On a national level, tests such as the SAT and ACT are very useful in comparing high school juniors and seniors, but what about our nation’s younger students? While many states have tests and curriculum specifically designed for their students, the educators, parents and lawmakers of our nation have yet to collaborate in the creation of a national standard, until now. CCSS has allowed the states to come together to set a new bar of achievement for all students.

Once a leader in education, the United States has fallen behind the curve in recent years as more and more countries become educationally competitive and find new ways to engage and teach their students. While the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment results won’t be released until December, we still have the 2009 results that should have raised alarm bells in every school district in the United States. Our reading literacy performance in 2009 had nine countries ahead of us. For math literacy performance, there were 17 countries with better scores, with the U.S. below the international average for 64 countries examined. Science literacy performance results showed 12 countries with superior scores. It appears that our race to the top has a long way to go.

The CCSS is a product of the dedication and initiative shown by 45 states to raise the bar for education in our country. Through the collaborative efforts of our nation’s finest education professionals, legislators and parents, the standards have been designed to elevate our education system, provide clearer learning expectations, and unite our students under a common goal of education enhancement. Through the implementation of these standards, students will be presented with a more rigorous curriculum, better preparing them for post-secondary learning and the workforce. Investing in the implementation and success of CCSS is a direct investment into the future of our country. Students who are more prepared for higher education and professional success are more likely to be contributing members of society, adding value to our state and federal economy.

These standards will also allow us to monitor the success of our country’s education system from state to state, and from county to county. The ability to compare students in different parts of the country will allow educators to more accurately pinpoint struggling areas and prevent failure, while addressing key issues and making progressive movements toward better education strategies.

Educators in Florida are taking steps to prepare themselves for the coming changes to curriculum brought on by CCSS. In the upcoming weeks, teachers across the state will have the opportunity to return to the classroom, participating in hands-on learning activities and developing their skills in new, more rigorous CCSS material. Institutes will be held to train teachers in Pinellas, Duval, Palm Beach, and Santa Rosa County, bringing these educators up-to-date on the newest teaching strategies and lesson plans.

As today’s leaders in education, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure a brighter future for our students. Whether it is teachers participating in educational workshops, lawmakers passing progressive education policy reforms or parents simply becoming more involved with their children, our nation must stand together in an effort to bring the United States back to the forefront of educational excellence and innovation. Through the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the American people are taking a step in the right direction by raising our academic standards. By focusing on the improvement of education today, we help to ensure a better and bright future for all of us tomorrow.

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