Opening the Door to a Bright Future: Common Core in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has long been one of America’s stars in regards to educational achievement. Scoring high when tested using international standards, many states look to it as a beacon of how to properly prep children for college and beyond. Even still, Massachusetts has been nothing if not a hotbed of controversy regarding its adoption of Common Core back in 2010. While it plans on sticking with the standards, opponents are continuing their vocal outcry.

Initial Adoption

Massachusetts was already a star in the eyes of the nation regarding academics when it voted to adopt Common Core on July 21, 2010. During that time, the state was due for a re-evaluation of its standards and found the newly developed Core to be an improvement on an already optimally performing curriculum. The day it was adopted, it was heralded as a way to spur even further achievement through a collaborative and innovative set of standards.

Even among the praise, heavy dissent arose. Opponents were quick to point out that the Governor was a close friend of Obama and that the Race to the Top money was too tempting. Because only states with Common Core received the stipend, many saw it as a bribe for adoption. Educators, on the other hand, rolled their eyes at these accusations. According to those that adopted it, most were very much on board, seeing the standards as highly adaptable, opening the doors to better education by dropping the old system based on rote memory.

Among this noise, Massachusetts did take steps to limit PARCC, Common Core’s standardized test. They and 10 other states voted to reduce test time as well as decrease the number of times it’s administered per year. While the standards are greatly appreciated, teachers and educators are more than happy to dismantle the standardized testing, knowing full well how detrimental it’s been at every grade level.

Core Progress

While both sides argue on about the pros and cons of the adoption, it’s the students that are reaping the benefits. By doing away with memorization and teaching the kids to analyze and think critically in order to understand concepts, even poorer performing schools are seeing an improvement. The idea is that this will lessen the gap between privileged and underprivileged students. Interestingly enough, it’s the schools with already high performing students that remain the most skeptical. With the vast majority of their students ready to attend college, there’s no rush to change.

Even though the teachers of the poorer performing schools are worried about inundating their students with far too much information during the initial transition, they are nevertheless hopeful this new set of standards will open the door for a brighter future many would otherwise not get. No matter their personal preferences, teachers understand what’s asked of them and are ready to face it head on to give their students the best chance at higher education.