Contrast the experience of this Delaware teacher with that of the many New Hampshire teachers who speak out here. You’ll hear this same complaint about highly scripted curricula based on the Common Core in other states as well, like New York. But when you see how the Common Core is implemented here in New Hampshire (and Washington state, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina and many other states), you realize that bad curricula are not a Common Core issue but a matter of poor education leadership.
Don’t make the mistake this teacher does of universalizing her experience:
I used to do many fun, innovative projects with my students. My students have owned and managed their own businesses, written children’s books and read them to younger students, done year-long literature studies on specialized topics, hosted project fairs, and an array of other student-created, choice- driven projects. They have designed, researched, written and read beyond their peers. My high school students were required to read 25 novels per year…yes, even the ones with learning disabilities could meet this goal with the help of assistive technology. Meeting and exceeding standards has always been my goal.
Last year, however, my performance appraisal listed me as “satisfactory.” What has changed? I’m still me. I still bring the passion, dedication, and years of experience to the classroom that I always have.
What has changed is Common Core State Standards. I was given a curriculum and told by my administration to teach it “word-for-word.” In a meeting with my administration, I was reprimanded with “Don’t forget, standards drive our instruction.”
Standards drive instruction. Data determines effectiveness. Positive outcomes for students requires proof.
If I don’t supply that proof, I’m not an effective teacher. Period. And my administration has warned me that my job depends on this proof.
I can’t do projects with my students anymore because I have to teach the curriculum word-for word, and I am only allowed to use standards-based assessments (which I must create myself). It doesn’t matter how my students learn best. It doesn’t matter that the Common Core State Standards assume a steady progression of skills that my students have not been formerly taught. It doesn’t matter that my students arrive at my door with a host of factors that I cannot control…their home situations, their former schooling, their attitudes toward school and learning and themselves, the neighborhood they live in, whether they are English Language Learners or have special needs, or whether they have just broken up with their girlfriend in the cafeteria. All those factors also affect student performance, but none of that matters. What matters is how my students perform on the state test. (And I must STOP teaching for 6 weeks in the spring to make sure our students pass that test.)