The Common Core, which implements national academic achievement standards for grades K-12, has faced a great amount of controversy in recent months. Much of the controversy revolves around the issue of the Common Core being geared too directly toward standardized tests while taking away the freedom of a teacher to rule his or her own classroom.
Although 45 states have already adopted this policy, the question still remains whether or not this is the best approach toward the improvement of schools across the nation.
With the support for the Common Core rapidly declining, one major critique is that not all schools have the same needs. Some districts may be thriving with their own policies in place, while others may be struggling.
While Boston College students may be past their high school years, Lynch students have a particularly vested interest in the discussion.
“For the areas that are scoring really poorly and have high drop out rates, some increased structure would be nice,” said Alex Nunan, LSOE ’17. “But, for the areas that are doing well, you don’t want to risk weakening their strengths.”
While the Common Core does aim to increase expectations and the overall performance of the students, it will change the general structure of a class, giving the teachers less freedom. Instead, the teachers will have to focus on the standards provided for them by the Common Core.
“I think [the Common Core] is restrictive. It focuses too much on specific things and less on overall creativity,” Nunan added. “Lower grades shouldn’t feel pressured and shouldn’t have to worry too much about grades and tests.”
The Common Core, with its one-size fits all approach, may also fail to accommodate the needs of all students.
"It’s fundamentally flawed because it was fundamentally undemocratic in the way that it was defined, rolled out and financed," writes Stan Karp, a former high school teacher now with New Jersey's Education Law Center and the liberal reform group Rethinking Schools, for the Washington Post.
Funding may present an additional challenge. With the implementation of any new education system come start up costs for new materials, introducing the possibility that the Common Core may lead to greater budget deficits, a reduction in teachers salary or layoffs.
Despite the controversy, there is support for the initiative from some members of the Boston College community. Solomon Friedberg, a professor of mathethematics at BC, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times advocating for a deliberate standard to be developed.
"We need urgent changes. But we need the right changes," Friedberg wrote. "With the right textbooks...and thoughtful testing, we can put in place the improvements that we need to implement the Common Core curriculum successfully and stop our nation's stagnation."
All these considerations continue to be weighed as the effectiveness of the Core remains up for debate. Educators wonder if the ends will justify the means and if the new standard will help close the enduring achievement gap.