"Common Core: The Basics"

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You've seen the protests, heard the controversy and chances are, your student has dealt with it in school

Common Core

But with all the changes going on in education, it's not wrong to ask - what exactly is Common Core and what isn't?

Let's start broad. There are three major reforms going on in our schools right now.

One is teacher evaluations.

All teachers are scored on a scale of ineffective to highly effective.

A big chunk of those points come from how well students do on special tests called student learning objectives. 

Two is Data Driven Instruction.

Teachers make a test and then teach to that test and then students take the test.

Teachers look at the results and see if there were gaps in what the students learned.

And three is the one that is causing all the noise, the Common Core.

It's a new set of higher standards that 45 states, including New York have adopted.

"The standards are meant to be more uniform and they're meant to be more rigorous," said Tom Burns, superintendent of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

So basically, every school in those 45 states is teaching the same things in each grade and everyone is being graded on the same things.

So why the Common Core?

The point is this: the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world.

Pearson, the largest education company in the world, says the U.S. ranks 17th in global education. 

And even here at home, half of college students never graduate.

"They're not prepared for college and they need to take the very costly remedial courses or there's a very high dropout rate in the first year of college," said Pat Brady, superintendent Potsdam Central School District.

The other part is making sure everyone is learning the same things at the same time, which is helpful in the north country

"Especially with Fort Drum being so close, we're sometimes getting a child coming in as a 3rd grader in Mississippi into our 3rd grade and probably put them into our first grade because the curriculums aren't even close to being the same,"  said Scott Connell, superintendent of Copenhagen Central School District.

That is what Common Core is supposed to do, make our students more prepared for careers or college in a global economy. 

But there are concerns, many concerns with how Common Core actually works.

Asa Stackel will talk about those in Part 2 his series "Common Core: The Basics."

It airs Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on 7 News at 6.

Monday, July 28, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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