Counterpoint: Is Common Core a justifiable standard for schools?

Rebecca Charno, Staff Writer

Common Core standards, first implemented in 2009, have had a tremendous impact on schools.  With these new guidelines, education has become more demanding for students and raised overall expectations for  teachers.  Common Core has had a negative effect on teachers, students, and education as a whole.

These changes cause students to be held to a higher standard than ever before.  For instance, teachers have to teach more information in a shorter amount of time. High school students, especially those in advanced classes, have enough work as it is, and trying to force more information into their minds only increases their stress levels.

“Having to study for two different tests at the end of the year adds to the stress load of school. Also, there’s so much to cover which leads us to rush through the curriculum,” said senior Rachel Reisman. “But with math, if you don’t understand one thing, it messes you up for the remainder of the year.”

Since there is so much more to learn, classes may end up cramming in order to fit in everything that will be on their final exams. As a result, some classes have more than one end-of-year exam. The sheer amount of information students need to understand can actually test grades to drop.

Not only does Common Core stress students out, but it also takes the focus away from actual learning. The addition of new, more difficult topics promotes rote memorization rather than true understanding of the material. Common Core ends puts students with poor study habits at a disadvantage, leaving them unprepared for their high school career.

“Not all students can learn the same way and we shouldn’t treat everyone like they do. Pupils often end up working hard on one test instead of putting their focus towards learning and doing their best,” said freshman Katherine Winter.

These changes have impacted the lives of students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike. The idea behind Common Core’s rigorous learning standards is to increase the quality of American education and allow the US to catch up to the rest of the world. While Common Core is great in theory, its implementation has more cons than it does pros.

“I don’t think that it’s the curriculum necessarily, the idea of Common Core is a smart way to decrease education gaps throughout the country.  I think the problem is the way it was implemented in New York.  Because we started this curriculum in middle school, we are now expected to be able to do things and have skills that we never learned because we didn’t have this curriculum early on in our education,” said junior Lauren Seltzer.

Teachers who have been teaching for many years have been forced to change their lessons, giving them more work as well. In the past, they would be able to reuse their teaching materials from previous years, but this is no longer possible, as the curriculum is constantly changing. The teachers are much more stressed out because they are evaluated based on students’ grades on the standardized tests.  They have to teach specifically for the tests, which does not necessarily cover all topics needed to go on to further classes.  For example, when there is a topic that isn’t likely to show up on regents tests, the teachers may skip over it instead of making sure that the students have a thorough understanding of that topic.

Regents exams have recently become a lot harder as well. In some cases, especially in math, there is an enormous curve designed to help students pass these tests, which defeats the purpose of them actually learning the information. For example, on the 2016 Algebra II regents, a student would only need to get a score of 29 out of 86 in order to pass.

Common Core has impacted all of New York in its attempt to catch up with the rest of the world and make sure that students across America are on the same academic level. Although changing the curriculum to achieve these goals is a sound idea, using Common Core is not the right way to do so, as it has caused more stress for students and teachers alike.