The Fringe of Common Core

Chase Mulvaney  |  2 min read


Recently, a nation-wide debate about the fate of the Common Core Standards and whether they should be entirely eliminated was sparked.

The purpose of the Common Core is to provide an outline for a child’s education from Preschool to twelfth grade and to set waypoints. The Standards set guidelines in each grade for what must be taught: a practice which, educators say, leaves little wiggle-room to teach the “whole child.” Education has become the practice of teaching to a test, which is the only indicator of a child’s ability. Unfortunately, federal funding results from test scores and test scores result from teacher performance. Testing alone, however, stifles the creativity of both the teacher and the student. Supporters of the Common Core say it helps students prepare for the adult world, providing them with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Essentially, it supposedly levels the playing field for all socioeconomic climates. Those who oppose the standards say it’s the Federal Government’s attempt to gain more influence in the education sector. This will increase the potential for already at-risk students to fall into an even larger gap.

In my eyes, the Common Core Standards are not necessarily a bad thing, and should not be abolished altogether. It keeps public schools across America teaching the same material at the same grade level.  That is not to say the Common Core Standards cannot be improved—nothing is perfect.

The Standards say that, in order to graduate High School, a student must be proficient in every core subject: Math, Science, English Language Arts, and History. A question arises: What happens if a student is proficient in every subject but one? Or even excels in all but one core subject? This student would not be able to graduate with his or her class. Instead, s/he may receive what some states are identifying as a “Certificate of Completion”—not a diploma. What does the future hold for this individual? Because the Standards state that you must be proficient in all core subjects, this student may be below proficiency by just one point after the final attempt at mastery, yet still not graduate. The standards are too black-and-white: there needs to be a gray area. Imagine a student who has a mastery of English, History, and Science. S/he falls short in Math, though, and that student’s future is now in jeopardy because one subject is holding him/her back.  The Common Core fails this group.

The size of public schools, where there are thousands of students in a single grade, and an average of thirty students to a class room, could be a significant contributing factor to this dilemma. It is possible for a student to fall through the cracks and not receive the support s/he may need as a result being overlooked in this overcrowded environment. The Common Core Standards are not something that need to be disposed of entirely; they may only need to be tweaked or restructured to not jeopardize the future of individuals who find themselves “in the fringe”….

That is how I see it.