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More research is needed on the Common Core standards [Letter]

2:00 PM EDT, July 1, 2014

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As a long-time educator, I recognize the need for the Common Core State standards and strongly support them. However, as the standards have been rolled out in the public schools, some major concerns have been raised ("In defense of Common Core," June 27).

While I agree that the Common Core standards will raise student skills in all areas, my first concern is that the Common Core has not taken into account the developmental level of the child. The standards have been mapped backward to develop the skills that students will need when they graduate, yet they fail to take into account how students' brains grow.

For example, the skill of reading for meaning relies on a part of the brain that is not developed in children until the fourth or fifth grade. Yet the standards expect them to be developed in the earlier grades. In algebra, the skills kindergarten students are now expected to have tap into abstract thinking patterns that don't develop in most kids until later years.

Students need to master many preliminary skills before they can develop the higher-order ones. The preliminary skills are what are currently developed in the primary grades. While the potential to develop certain parts of the brain earlier sounds awesome, students would feel the extra stress and teachers would need more influence over their preschool education to develop those skills earlier.

Many students come to class without having the benefit of parents who read to them or helped them learn numbers and letters, so teachers need to fill in those gaps as well. The political movement to develop pre-school skills earlier is a step in the right direction. However, until brain researchers can find ways to develop the human brain faster, students and teachers will struggle.

You also failed to mention that the standards have been rolled out without being tested for validity and reliability. That means that they have not been tested enough to determine if they really bring the results that are needed.

To solve the issue of different interpretations of the standards, textbook and testing companies have jumped on board to create curriculum and assessment materials that supposedly match up with the standards. This means that they plan on making money off the standards and our kids. Is that how we want the Common Core standards delivered — by corporate entities?

I agree that a roll out of the Common Core should be done gradually, preferably one grade level at a time. However, before that happens more research needs to be done. If we want students and teachers to be held accountable, shouldn't we hold the materials they will be measured by accountable as well?

Barbara Boksz

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