The Great Tango: A Look at Common Core

By Nichele Mason, PhD
Faculty Supervisor of Student Teaching, College of Education

Posted on March 30, 2016  in  [ Teaching & School Administration ]

I dance as reprieve from my inundated work schedule.

During an international convention, a top instructor who has mastered a particular genre of dance and focuses on no other, was selected to be at the helm of the next convention.

The problem?

It empowered someone who did not have experience in other interpretations of dance, as opposed to someone with a broader understanding and application. This snowballed into additional obstacles, such as promoting uniformity instead of individuality. By stifling creativity, an in-depth performance could not be guaranteed.

Unfortunately, it is human nature to run toward the next big thing without fully considering the source. The end result can be a less comprehensive and formidable representation of something wonderful.

This situation unfortunately mirrors the plight that our school system has historically faced in educating all of our students. Common Core is our most recent effort to establish national standards. It has been adopted by 46 states and has been attested as providing a skillset that all students should attain between K-12. These skills render students prepared for entry-level college courses and workforce training programs.

The standards also have been lauded as:

  • Rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills
  • Being built upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Being informed by other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society
  • Evidence-based

Although applause should be rendered for those states that have taken on the task of implementing the national standards, a survey of 500 teachers yielded some gaps. Very few teachers reported receiving training on Common Core assessments. Additionally, they feel moderately prepared to teach most students, but less prepared to teach certain populations, specifically those with exceptionalities.

This leaves us with people on both sides. Parents, educators and administrators all agree that we need a set of standards that will cultivate a nation of learners who are ready to compete in the global market. In order for this to come to fruition, teachers need to be provided with ongoing training to have clear working knowledge of the curriculum and the corresponding assessments.

As a result, this will increase the probability of an effective facilitation of instruction and assessments of all students in their classroom. In addition, we also must ensure that we are not inadvertently manufacturing students just ready for work.

Students need not only know how to make a living, but also how to have a fulfilling life through investigation of subjects that will ultimately take them on their own outstanding performance. As a result, there won’t just be applause, but a standing ovation for a job well-done.

Grand Canyon University’s College of Education has a history of producing outstanding educators, who follow our mission of learning, leading and serving. To learn more about GCU, visit our website.

More about Nichele:

Nichele Mason, PhD, earned her doctorate in education administration from Gallaudet University. She also has an MEd in special education and a BS in psychology. With over 25 years of experience teaching and/or supervising grades pre-kindergarten through graduate school in public and private settings, Dr. Mason’s specialty areas include special education, early childhood education and gifted education.

Currently, Dr. Mason is the education curriculum development specialist and grant writer for a family-owned company that has won over $10 million in grants for clients in the past 15 years. She is a member of the Partners of the Americas and currently in the process of participating in a bi-continental project between selected U.S. and South American universities. Topic areas include recognition and response (early childhood version of RTI); multiculturalism; using technology in assessment; developmental guidelines from birth to eighth grade curriculum and curriculum modification; observation and documentation; diversity; and developmental guidelines. One of Dr. Mason’s favorite activities is traveling abroad, and she has traveled with the circus as a school teacher and sign language interpreter.

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