By Travis Moon
In 2010, Kentucky was the first state to adopt and implement the new Common Core standards. These standards, now in place in more than 40 states, detail expectations of what K-12 students “should know and be able to do at the end of each grade,” according to corestandards.org.
Five years after that first implementation, there’s been buckets of ink spilled about how beneficial or detrimental the common core is for teachers, administrators, and students. A few trends of opinion have emerged on both sides of the issue; one of the most surprising is the impact the common core has had on independent schools.
- Student-focused development: One of the common core’s tools allows for educators to track each student’s progress against benchmarks during the school year, as opposed to evaluating how they’re performing compared to other students.
- Focus on critical thinking: Common core test questions improve on the old multiple-choice format of other standardized tests–each question covers multiple skills to encourage the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. This multi-assessment feature allows students to develop their own answers, and learn how to defend those positions.
- Easier Professional Development: Since teachers across states are teaching to the same standards and requirements, there’s an increase in the availability of and access to quality professional development materials.
- Over-testing: The common core adds to the amount of testing already required of students. This type of testing can dramatically increase stress in students, and take their focus away from actual learning and education, instead focusing on learning how to take the test.
- Drain on time: In addition to the time needed to actually take the required tests, there is a major amount of time needed to prepare for the tests. One educator I spoke to said, “We have a testing prep window dictated to us for PARCC Assessment (the test tied to the common core) that lasts from March to May.” This requirement takes time away from the lesson plans teachers have developed, placing teaching focus on test prep instead of actually educating their students.
- Exodus of teachers and administrators: One of the worst downsides to the common core adoption has become more evident over time–quality teachers, as well as teachers who may be approaching retirement and are unwilling to make the massive overhaul to their teaching plans required by the common core–are leaving education in pursuit of other careers.
Just as educators are leaving their jobs to avoid being forced into teaching a set of standards they may not believe in, many parents are worried about how the common core requirements will affect the overall education and well-being of their children. Independent schools are seeing an increased interest in alternative options, which presents a unique opportunity.
As the demand for public education alternatives increases, competition for enrollment among independent schools will increase. To stay ahead of this change, Independent schools need to take the time and effort to develop solid marketing and communications strategies to reach out to this population, and help them understand the benefits that an independent education can offer in the face of regulations like the common core.
Travis Moon is a seasoned professional writer with experience developing content for audiences across the healthcare, higher education, government, communications, and financial industries. Travis lives in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore and is currently working as a senior proposal writer for a IT services and staffing firm.
You can find Travis on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/travis-moon/21/615/79b