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home : opinions : commentary May 28, 2016

10/16/2012 8:05:00 AM
My Turn: Gearing up for Common Core standards
Patricia Osborn
Patricia Osborn
Patricia Osborn
Common Core Instructional Coach

The Common Core State Standards Initiative formally began in June 2009 as a collaborative effort among 48 states. Most states have since adopted these standards in English language arts (ELA) mathematics. They have also joined together to develop and implement common tests.

Why are so many states transitioning to shared standards and assessments?

• Different standards across states.

• Student mobility, which worsens the problem.

• Changes in the set of skills required for current and emerging jobs.

• Increasing global competition for existing jobs

The common core standards are critical for achieving the goal of preparing all students to graduate from high school with the skills needed in college and the workforce. They incorporate fewer standards with more depth of knowledge and have been internationally benchmarked. Students are required to apply higher-order skills and demonstrate the ability to apply concepts to new situations.

Central to the new English language arts standards is the requirement that students analyze a variety of complex texts, conduct frequent research, use academic vocabulary in speaking and writing and create arguments backed by clear evidence.

In mathematics, students are expected to master concepts at a deeper level, compute multi-step problems, and apply mathematical theory to demonstrate understanding.

Through participation in this multi-state initiative, students will benefit by having access to:

• Clear, focused standards.

• A better understanding of what is expected.

• A strong emphasis on real-world application of knowledge and skills.

• Consistent expectations across states for all students.

• Knowledge and skills needed to succeed with post-secondary educational and career opportunities.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, member states, including Arizona, will implement the common assessments. For Arizona, this test is titled PARCC or the Partnership Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek students and staff began implementing the common core standards in kindergarten and first grade last year and all grade levels (kindergarten through 8th) this fall. These standards serve as the guiding document for what students should know and be able to do.

Parents and community members can find more information about what is expected of students at each grade level by logging into the COCSD website, www.cocsd.k12.az.us and clicking on Common Core, or by contacting their local school.

Patricia Osborn is the Common Core Instructional Coach for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

So then you are telling me that you teach EXACTLY the same way using the EXACT same material as a teacher in NEW YORK or Florida or CALIFORNIA?

I sincerely doubt that you are teacher or you would know that this is IMPOSSIBLE.

Critically thinking there is NO way that all students across the country could learn the SAME thing at the same time in the SAME way.

There is NO herd mentality with our current EDUCATION system. I have always been FREE to incorporate art, technology and social responsibility into my lessons. These are things that are as unique and individual as I am and all teachers are FREE to do the same with their individual interests!

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Article comment by: I AM a Teacher...

and as another poster below commented, some of this is "old" stuff dusted off and given a new name.

I stand by my original comment, as I have always felt, that common core standards lead the way to LOSS of LOCAL control, and do not contribute to creative thinking skills when a test looms in the near future.

There is a big difference between a teacher who can and does incorporate creative means to teach the core standards, and a teacher who runs a study hall type class, teaching only from a text and only for the test.

I am not a political conservative in today's sense. I am a moderate. I believe that education , even with common core standards, is being watered down in the name of tests and the corresponding dollars attached, and will ultimately force many creative teachers to look elsewhere for an appropriate school (non public).

As I originally said below, I see us losing local control and teaching young people in a herd mentality. All think alike, all learn the same material, all easily run off a cliff.

Posted: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Excellent post, Gaia Gurl. It will definitely influence my on-going consideration of the on-going debate over school vouchers. (My grandmother was against them. My mother was for them. They were both teachers. For a while, I thought the answer was vouchers only within the public school system so that parents could get their kids out of a badly run school or district. But magnet schools, charter schools, open enrollment, and home schooling options seem to have solved that problem in a more accountable way. This new application of an old concept seems redundant in the Verde Valley, but what about states in which the public school system is corrupt or misguided from the State Department of Education on down? Why is it fair for parents who are paying for private or parochial schools, thus sparing the state the expense of educating their children, also pay for the maintenance of public schools without receiving any assistance at all? My grandmother predicted a $XXX-per-head education mentality back in the 40's. This has come to pass without vouchers. Why? And so it goes.)

I was also interested in your perspective on national standards. The dichotomy between northern and southern states has been my experience as well. I've observed it not just on the eastern seaboard, and not just between states that spend a lot per student vs. those that don't. I wonder what the common denominator really is.

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012
Article comment by: Maybe I missed something

How many of you people are actually teachers? Standards are just to ensure an overall base education. Example: All 3rd graders know times tables. Everyone understands the Scientific Method and the basic information about all subjects. You learn to read, etc.

Most lessons combine many different standards in order to ensure that all are being included, it is VERY flexible and a proper education will never have presenters and uniform education as there are hundreds of ways to teach each standard and combine them with others.

Teachers are free to teach diverse units within the core standards, obviously laymen have no clue how this is done.

You can teach a science experiment and touch on math standards such as fractions in the measurement of liquids.

Teachers also bring their own interests into the teaching of standards and teachers are as unique and individual as the students.

One teacher had the class make a historic town out of boxes in her classroom which covered history, art and math standards as the students measured the door and windows in the buildings.

Human rights violations by Americans throughout history has always been something I have included in my teaching. I feel that Columbus Day is no longer appropriate and I am free to teach why.

National standards do not mean that every student is being taught the same thing, there is LOCAL control on how those standards can be taught. If you are REALLY interested in how teaching works, you should google 'thematic units' and 'lesson plans.'

The real danger to education are the standardized tests as Mr. Bond has said. Teachers do not have time for creativity in education if they are forced to teach to a test. No Child Left Behind was only a give away to the corporate testing industry and NOT education.


Many of the people here are just repeating conservative propaganda, whose agenda is to privatize education so that your child are reduced to nothing more than profit.

If you don't have an education in education, then you have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Article comment by: Beverly Cose

"Teaching to the Test" has been around long before No Child Left Behind was proposed in 2001. Adopting Common Core Standards only levels the playing field to insure that we are all using the same standards. These tests are rigorous and if you look at the exemplars, you will see that students in 9th grade will be asked to analyze Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Public education is trying to survive. See if you agree: http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Article comment by: Out Standing In My Field

Don't worry. Common Core Standards is yet another re-branding of what good teachers already do and have always done.
This happens periodically and is always hailed as the next new thing, the Magic Bullet.
Consultants make lots of money showing districts how to "implement" the "new" standards, and administrators who are put in charge of these programs get to keep their jobs and even get raises.

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Article comment by: This is turning our kids into sheeples! Another Another step in the dumbing down of America...

So all the kids learn the same thing in the USA. Does that scare anyone? It sure scares me! Letting the government set the curriculum and standards is like training everyone to be the same. That means teachers won't be teaching anymore, just spitting out what the government wants taught. The atrocities that the US Government has done are barely taught today: the Trail of Tears and the internment of American citizens that were Japanese, just to name a few.

Pretty soon the schools won't even need teachers. The schools will hire presenters instead of teachers. They'll teach the prepackaged units that are the same across the USA. No lesson plans to do, answer sheets will be scanned into a computer and graded.

It will be interesting to see how education has we know it is going to change.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: John A. Bond

The problem with any testing procedure established by any school district is that in order to mollify their egos and for teachers to protect their jobs, inevitably children are prepared for the test.

Everything becomes about the TEST. Nothing else matters and so long as the child's brain can be crammed with whatever material will allow them to pass the TEST, the goal of learning [critical thinking skills] is abandoned in favor of impressing those who fund the district based upon the TEST.

Under these programs, the rhetoric never matches the real world experience and the children always suffer from such standardized testing procedures that represent propagandization rather than genuine learning.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

You can find the Arizona state educational standards here, you will note they are quite comprehensive.


The 'posters' here make some good points, but with such a MOBILE populace a diverse education only hurts many students. Diversity works well in ecosystems, but not so much in education.

Students who move from the NE to the South find they are YEARS ahead in education and if moving from the South to the NE they are YEARS behind. States that spend more on education are far more advanced than states like Florida and Arizona which spend far less.

National standards are good for the mobile demographic of our society, the military, jobseekers, people who just like our freedom to pick up and move, etc.

Public education is fine for an overall standard of learning and they insure that the poor in addition to those who can afford private school are educated. If schools were privatized, only ones that made a PROFIT would exist.

Critical thinking skills ARE taught in public schools, and contrary to popular belief, they continually strive to do better with the money and tools they are limited to.

Education would best be served if it was not a continual POLITICAL ping pong ball. Leave education to the educators and it can succeed. Traditionally, schools have LOCAL control, if you feel your child is being indoctrinated to be a drone for corporations, then GET INVOLVED. Here is PROOF that leaving education to EDUCATORS and parents instead of POLITICIANS works:


Parents concerned with an indoctrinating education SHOULD always be willing to supplement a public school education for a well rounded student, especially in times of severe budget cuts.

Scouting, sports, internships, churches and even the example you set for your children can make for a more diversely educated populace with the basic educational skills needed to succeed.

Charter and private schools give choice, but not all Charter schools succeed and private schools are expensive. VOUCHERS are not the answer as they take money from public education which services far more students and also funds RELIGIOUS schools which already have a tax free status. I don't want my public tax dollars going to INDOCTRINATE religious beliefs.

Many people dengrated Ms. Uren for the creation of Mountainview Prep, but it is just another FREE public school choice in the 'menu' of educational possibilities for today's students.

In public school, my daughter was provided with a well rounded education, which afforded her exposure to Music, Art and Sports . . . in addition to a quality education. Many forget that our community educators are PART of our community, they are your neighbors, their own children attend public school, they are not some corporation looking to make a buck.

Dollar for dollar what students receive in public school is a bargain and not the least bit sub-standard. My daughter earned scholarships and is now doing exceptional in college, where the free flow of ideas is generated and encouraged in a more diverse manner.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: Common Core Herd Mentality

All the easier to run all of the buffalo off the cliff! I want our children to think, to solve problems their own way, not by some standard think this way or else mantra.

I want our children to be self starters, to find their own niche, to find their own personal happiness and wealth. This national standards, state standards, teach for the data movement is NOT going to put thought back into the classroom. It is not going to enable our children to compete.

Teach our children to think for themselves, create their own life...then maybe we can worry about economic gain nationawide. Stop trying to push this global crap on every aspect of life.

Maybe the US should beomce isolationists again for a decade a rebuild ourselves as we built ourselves from the beginning.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

A diverse educational system produces a diverse people. A diverse people are better survivors. Your job is to educate my children and not prepare them for some cooperate employment. I would like the children of Yavapai County to be gainfully self employed in a global economy and using the resources that are already in the system.

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Henry

Are the CCS available on line so that we folks
can read and understand same.


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