New York is among 45 states that signed on to teaching a new, more rigorous curriculum called the Common Core. The general idea is two-fold: raise the standard of information that students must know, and create consistency across the public education landscape to help the US remain competitive in a global economy.
Seventh-grade students learning math in Chicago’s schools, for example, should be able to come to the Greece schools with the same level of understanding because they've been taught the same curriculum.
But many educators have concerns about whether the Common Core is being implemented properly, and if it is being implemented too soon.
A recent study by the University of Rochester, Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Washington State University Tri-Cities indicates that some of those concerns are warranted.
The researchers found that more support and resources are needed in order for educators to put the state standards for the math portion of the core curriculum into practice. After surveying 403 middle school math teachers in 43 states, the researchers found that while the teachers are familiar with the new math curriculum and they perceived it to be more rigorous than the state standards it replaces, the teachers needed more help and preparation to teach it to their students.
Many of the teachers are still using textbooks and other materials created before the new curriculum was developed. Many teachers, according to the research, also would benefit from more professional development so they can be more effective in the classroom.
The research is especially important to educators, since teachers and principals in many states — including New York— will receive professional evaluations linked to test results.
Educators and their unions say that it’s too early to begin evaluating teachers when the Common Core curriculum is still being implemented, and some have sought delays in the evaluations.
“The teachers are feeling this is a big deal and it’s going to be hard to do, and they haven’t been fully prepared,” says Jeffrey Choppin, associate professor at the UR’s Warner School of Education.