Common Core Standards- What's the problem?

This is not funny - totally NOT funny - but I laughed with increasing incredulity when I read this article in Education WeekConcern Abounds Over Teachers' Preparedness for Standards:

"I predict the common-core standards will fail, unless we can do massive professional development for teachers," said Hung-Hsi Wu, a professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, who has written extensively about the common-core math standards. "There's no fast track to this." It's a Herculean task, given the size of the public school teaching force and the difficulty educators face in creating the sustained, intensive training that research indicates is necessary to change teachers' practices.

I'm thinking. . . Common Core Standards - hhmmm. . . I've read many scope and sequence charts, and never saw anything that sounded like a "Herculean task" or recipe for failure - so I looked up the Common Core Standards to see what on earth was so difficult about teaching the children of this country "readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic."

English Language Arts Standards, Grade 1

Print Concepts

RF.1.1. Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.

  • Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).

Phonological Awareness

RF.1.2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

  • Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
  • Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.
  • Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words.
  • Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes).

Phonics and Word Recognition

RF.1.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

  • Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs (two letters that represent one sound).
  • Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
  • Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.
  • Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word.
  • Decode two-syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.
  • Read words with inflectional endings.
  • Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.


RF.1.4. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

  • Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
  • Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression.
  • Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.

I'm sorry to sound incredulous, but this does not sound like a gargantuan undertaking. So I'm still wondering about the dire predictions of this lack of teacher preparedness. There must be more to this story. It doesn't make sense. Further down the page I read:

By any accounting, the challenge of getting the nation's 3.2 million K-12 public school teachers ready to teach to the standards is enormous.
With new assessments aligned to the standards rapidly coming online by 2014-15, the implementation timeline is compressed. Teachers are wrestling with an absence of truly aligned curricula and lessons. Added to those factors are concerns that the standards are pitched at a level that may require teachers themselves to function on a higher cognitive plane.

Now I'm not laughing, I'm confused. What kind of curriculum has been used in the schools all these years that does NOT address what we consider to be core academic skills? And why would teaching core skills require a teacher to function on a higher cognitive plane?


. . .trained observers scored lessons taught by some 3,000 teachers against a variety of teaching frameworks. No matter which framework was used, teachers received relatively low scores on their ability to engage students in "analysis and problem-solving," to use "investigation/problem-based approaches," to create "relevance to history, current events," or to foster "student participation in making meaning and reasoning," according to a report from the foundation.

Flummoxed. Completely flummoxed. Today's teachers have not only spent 12 years in the school system, but have gone on to study the educational process itself, as well as administrative duties and classroom management, and yet are unable to analyze and problem solve, or "create relevance to history and current events"?

Far too many teachers and administrators are sucked into the black hole of arbitrary and ever-changing federal standards, implementing new-fangled programs, and are unable to do the job they were trained to do. Teachers are literally being described as unable to inspire children to learn or communicate information in a clear and effective manner, and far too many school districts are manacled by teacher's unions, unable to remove from the classroom those who are NOT possessed of the ability to teach effectively.

Children will continue to pay the price with a substandard education, regardless of promised "reforms".

No, it's not funny at all.