Combating the Common Core

In 2010, the Common Core State Standards Initiative released for the first time the state standards, which in the next three years will be adopted by 45 of the 50 states. Virginia remains one of the five states that has not adopted these standards.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a non-profit organization lead by state governors and education commissioners. The goal of the organization, according to its website, is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and students know what to do to help them,” according to the Common Core website. These standards can be voluntarily adopted by the individual states, and Virginia continues to stick to its own state-developed standards.

“I believe that Virginia has higher standards than the Common Core Standards,” Geometry and Algebra 2 teacher Jesse Strom said. “I think the focus is more on higher-level thinking skills.”

The statistics back up the VA standards. Virginia is ranked fourth nationally in education.

“I can speculate that the state of Virginia is very satisfied with the education system that we have in Virginia,” principal Dave Thomas said. “It is one of the best in the United States.”

Virginia was part of the committee that set out to create the Common Core Initiative. According to the Virginia Department of Education website, the VA standards are based off of the Common Core standards the state set out to create.

“I think the state feels like the standards they have make students that graduate from Virginia schools more competitive with other kids all over the United States,” Thomas said. “I think the data proves that out.”

The performance of Virginia students an ACT exams are above the national average.

Virginia’s goal, according to its Department of Education website, is to incorporate ideas from the Common Core standards, but to also further develop and exceed them.

Some states, like Maryland, are possibly reconsidering the Common Core Standards. Since teachers now have to modify their lessons in order to conform to the new curriculum a larger workload is placed on them.

“It requires a lot of extra work of teachers,” Thomas said.

The other four states not adopting the Common Core include Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota, which has only adopted the English portion of the standards. In many of these states, strong political opposition is the reason for opposition to Common Core. Virginia is one of the few that holds their own standards higher than the Common Core.