Initial Thoughts on the Common Core State Standards

We are now in the a three week until on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World. We have been provided with a wealth of resources to get us started:

I have also been doing some research on my own in regards to the Iowa Core, our state’s academic standards for math, science, social studies, English language arts, 21st century skills, financial literacy, and technological literacy. The Iowa Alliance for Arts Education has been working to expand the Iowa Core to include “music and other fine arts, foreign languages, entrepreneurial education, physical education, applied arts, and character education.” I’d write more, but the State of Iowa has decided to do scheduled maintenance on all of their websites over the Thanksgiving holiday. They will be back up on Monday, December 1st. I apologize for all the unhelpful Iowa links.

One of the best resources I have found in my search has been the blog of Tim Purdum, a general music teacher from Waterloo, Iowa. Tim is an Orff Schulwerk Certified Teacher Trainer, a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Music, and the owner of Cedar River Music. He has many posts in regards to the Iowa Core, the Common Core State Standards, the National Core Arts Standards, and the implementation of all of these into his general music classroom. The post I have used the most in this past week of research has been on Iowa Core Companion and National Core Music Standards which contains slides on a June 18, 2014 presentation on the Iowa Core Companion Fine Arts Standards and the National Core Arts Standards. I will be posting more on this Iowa-specific research after the state government concludes its website maintenance.

Discussion Board Prompt
Philosophically, do you believe that the Federal Government should be involed in setting education benchmarks and possibly mandating a common curriculum for the public school districts in our country? Should the Federal Government be involved in what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility?

In my undergraduate Foundations of American Education course (taken as a sophomore), we were given the following prompt:

If control over education was directly proportional to the funding contributed by the federal, state, and local governments, what do you think would be the best mix of funding, and why?

Now, wouldn’t it be great if our country worked that way? The state or federal government dictating educational policy AND backing it up with adequate funds? In reading back through my response to that prompt, I had recommended 60% state, 30% federal, and 10% local. Iowa is a strong proponent for more local control, and I have seen it succeed and fail across our state.

My very limited understanding of the Common Core Standards and our own Iowa Core make me believe that they are an attempt at what Kari describes: “a baseline of minimum academic and graduation requirements.” They are not intended to be a direction of how we teach (curriculum). We are charged as educators to “unpack” these standards and decide how we are going to teach and assess these standards. In other words, I second (third) what Kari says: the state and local governments need to be responsible for the development of the curriculum.

2 Replies to “Initial Thoughts on the Common Core State Standards”

  1. People need to understand the Common Core standards were a product of the National Governor’s Association, not the federal government. They are standards, not curriculum, that attempt to update what students need to know and be able to do in the 21st century. In Iowa the arts teachers worked cooperatively and without pay, to create a document on how the arts classes teach to the 21st century employability skills. Though this was enthusiastically received by the Iowa DOE and many legislators from both parties, political bickering has prevented it from becoming part of the law.

    1. Absolutely, Brad! We are discussing this “standards not curriculum” piece. I completely agree. And now with Iowa looking at the Smarter Balanced Assessments, we are even more aligned with CCSS. I do not think they are bad in amd of themselves, but like any educational initiative they could be implemented poorly. We need to be proactive in the “unpacking” process to ensure the implementation is done well!

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