Officially adopted by the Maryland State Board of Education on June 22, 2010, the state has since enacted full implementation during the 2013 to 2014 school year, preceding many of the other states that only this current school year brought about full integration. Their College and Career-Ready standards are used to define what every child should have mastered by the end of each school year so as to be best prepared for entering college and then pursuing a career in any field. By enforcing such a change, they hope to raise the educational bar of the state thereby producing students that are intellectually competitive at a global level.
When researching Common Core, it’s hard not to come across the controversy surrounding it. At the core of the debate lies the fact that these new standards introduce a yet unseen involvement by the federal government, one that supersedes all state governance. In Maryland, however, this is not the case. Maryland took the official Common Core Standards and redesigned them to fit the exact needs of the state. They are officially known as the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards. It should also be noted that these standards are not a curriculum, they are simply benchmarks. Teachers are allowed to pursue whatever tactics and lessons they deem appropriate to help all of their students excel. In a way, this allows far more adaptability which very well could translate into higher scores.
Currently, the goal of many schools is to simply have each child graduate to the next level, completely negating the future. If a child is lucky enough to have great grades when young, they will probably be sent to a specialized high school that does what Common Core aims to do—imbue the students with the skills they need to advance outside of a structured system. By implementing such a thought process at the most basic levels, it is assumed the students will then become top performers after graduation. In addition, all of the decided upon benchmarks have taken into account what students in top performing countries, like Japan and Germany, are learning at their various grade levels. It would be remiss of any forward thinking program to not address the fact that the world becomes more globalized with each generation and to not perform to world standards will only mean harder times in the future.
Before this system went into effect, educators were given specific curricula that was then used to judge their performance as well as that of their students. As it has been in effect, this has now shifted. Instead of trying to do 25% history, 25% math, 25% English and 25% science, math and English language arts, or ELA, have now become the core subjects upon which everything else is built. After all, language and numbers are the building blocks of how we express information. From Kindergarten, children are tasked with explaining their literary arguments through evidence and research. This, of course, teaches them the importance of how to properly come up with, execute and defend thoughts. As for mathematics, minor memorization is required in place of explaining how answers were achieved. All of this comes together to create a learning environment where teachers are now able to delve deeper into the important concepts while still having more time to cover supplemental material.
Common Core is still and will remain a hotly debated educational shift for years to come. As for Maryland, one of its first complete adopters, the program seems to be working well. By now, they have had about a year longer than most other states to work out the initial hiccups that come with any new implementation. Even among its glitzy promises for change through continual testing and higher standards, there remains the fact that standardized testing has never been deemed a good thing, no matter how well or poorly the tested student usually does. Hopefully, though, it won’t be the students that suffer.