Adopted in all but seven states, Common Core is the new standard by which the nation will measure itself together and to the rest of the world. By assigning benchmarks to each grade that has to be passed, every child, no matter their location, will be receiving the education they need in language arts and math to truly be ready to take on the next years of school and beyond. Ultimately leading toward global measurements, Common Core is providing America a means by which its schools can be equal for the first time in the school system’s existence. Adopted in 2010, Alabama initially took it as a step toward progress, however, the state rescinded its support, citing the fear of federal intrusion. Even so, their curriculum is aligned to Common Core standards.
Even though it is now gone, it has left a lasting effect on the state’s educational rigors for the two main subjects it targets: math and English language arts. As far as math goes, the curriculum is undergoing change even at the earliest level of Kindergarten. The youngest scholars will begin focusing on something known as a “number core.” This simply means tying together how numbers relate to quantities and the basics of addition and subtraction. Then, up to and including fifth grade, the math becomes a bit more complex. The basics of multiplication, division, addition and subtractions are built upon, eventually leading to the introduction of complexities. These include fractions, decimals, negatives numbers and geometry. Middle school is set to cement these processes through hands-on learning. From algebra and geometry to probability and statistics, more than just pencil and paper will be utilized to help each child understand the complexities of evolving math. This will end up being very beneficial to those students who are visually and spatially inclined. The entire purpose is to have every student prepared for Algebra I in eighth grade, not just those students that are considered gifted. Finally, high school compounds upon the knowledge, using it to address real world situations with the purpose of developing better decision making.
While math is essential for general financial planning, English is the core of communication, a skill that serves its purpose well until we expire. Unlike math with its structured step-by-step learning progression from K through 12, English is a bit more liquid, opting instead to hit goals versus milestones. The most important listed is that the reading list will be far broader, containing classics, contemporary pieces and challenging informational reads. From these, the students will be taught to analyze everything, searching for knowledge, insight, possibilities and expanding perspective (a feat the south isn’t exactly well known for). Reading lists have been done away with, but the main foundational documents of America and Western culture will be focused on to give the students a sense of where they come from and why thoughts have evolved as they have. The most defined objective language arts has is to start teaching analysis at the youngest grade possible. This will well prepare the children for writing research papers and defending their opinion as they push higher and higher. In addition, speaking and listening skills will obtain a much more important emphasis. Originating from group discussions and formal presentations, students will be taught the importance of verbal communication. Finally, vocabulary growth will continue to be encouraged, and media and technology will be focused on with much importance as so much of what we do is now reliant upon it.
Though Common Core may be gone, it has still left a lasting impact on Alabama. They have realized their past standards are no longer good enough to produce students that can compete with the rest of the nation much less the rest of the world. Knowing this, they have decided to keep the standards left behind. By providing each child a fighting chance at success, Alabama is ensuring its students have a hopeful tomorrow that can be achieved.