Since 2010, Minnesota has been using the English Language Arts aspect of the Common Core. However, using only half means they don’t officially count as a state that has adopted the Core. No matter the denotation Minnesota is given, though, it has no doubt shown better than almost every other state that the new standards are as adaptable and versatile as they have been promoted to be.
Their English, Our Math
When the state was first presented with the new standards, they immediately jumped on the English portion, readily agreeing that it was much more rigorous when compared to their previous standards. As for math, the state had already put into practice in 2008 a far more challenging curriculum that they believe asks for more than the Common Core does. While it meant a split, it nevertheless serves as an example that states are free to choose what they need to best serve their students.
Since English has come into implementation, the students are facing a much changed face of the subject. Instead of memorization by rote, they are asked to analyze and assess text, a practice that better prepares them for tackling English in the real world. In the same vein, the tests have strayed far from the multiple choice options where educated guesses could much improve a score. Now, test questions serve as ways to really find out if the students understood what they read.
Possibly Lower Scores
Three years after English was adopted, the Common Core test was implemented. While that signaled full integration, it also led to a letter being sent home to parents, warning them of the likelihood of lower test scores. With a completely new format testing a different set of abilities, it only maked sense that Minnesota would follow other states like Kentucky by reporting much lower scores through the first year or two. Instead of causing mass panic, however, Minnesota recognized that its parents were very involved in their childrens’ grades, leading to the letter explaining just why the possibility of lower scores wasn’t a bad thing so much as a growing pain.
As with all states, Minnesota has its share of opponents, decrying the Core as nothing more than a government-led way to slowly but surely grab control of the school systems. Educators are taking this with a grain of salt, happy to explain the actual purpose to those with said fears. To the teachers, it’s a way to bring their students up to global standards by improving their education through harder subjects that they know their students can handle.
While many states are already fully integrated into the core, Minnesotan educational leaders are still taking it in stride. They realize that while a positive change, there’s still a full decade ahead of the nation before it knows if the standards are doing what they promised.