What is the Common Core and how does it affect Latino students in Arizona? According to corestandards.org, the Common Core is a compilation of “high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA).” States will individually set their own standards in order to help ensure students are prepared for college and careers after graduating from high school. States can decide whether to adopt this program, and there are currently 43 states, along with Washington D.C., four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) that have signed on.
While specific standards will vary in each state, there are consistencies within all of the state-led programs:
(1) Standards are research- and evidence-based.
(2) Standards are clear, understandable, and consistent.
(3) Standards are aligned with college and career expectations.
(4) Standards are based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills.
(5) Standards are built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards.
(6) Standards are informed by other top performing countries in order to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society.
So, with those standards in mind, how will they help Latino students in Arizona? A publication offered by the National Council of La Raza addresses this question. It has determined the following list of benefits of the Common Core Program:
(1) It ensures that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or zip code will be taught and held to the same high standards to ensure students are prepared for college and work.
(2) It ensures that all students will have access to the same high-quality content, opportunities, and support which have proven to be successful for postsecondary success.
(3) It works to emphasize analytical and critical thinking skills in order to gain practical experience.
(4) It offers the opportunity for parents and guardians to better assess their child's progress and compare it with students in other states and areas of the country.
Although it seems that the Common Core program and its strategies would be welcomed by all communities, it has been met with its fair share of criticism. At a recent event in Bullhead City, there was a debate as to the benefits of the program. However, Donna Davis of Expect More Arizona, thinks most misgivings about the Common Core comes from misinformation.
One thing Davis made clear during the discussion was the fact that the program is not mandated by the federal government. She said that the “U.S. Department of Education supports the new standards, but has no role in creating them or deciding where they are required.”
Another common misconception, Davis said, is that the Common Core program will “dumb down” coursework. She explained that in reality, the standards associated with Arizona's program “represent ‘the floor, not the ceiling' of what students will be taught.” In fact, school districts are able, and many do, enact more rigorous standards.
Clearing up misconceptions does not mean that everyone will now be for the Common Core. In the last legislative session, there were numerous bills put forth that would abolish the program. What do you think of the Common Core program in Arizona? Is it beneficial to Latino students?