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Can the Common Core State Standards Promote Student Flourishing?

By Dave Stuart Jr.

For me, there is one primary mission in my classroom every day: to increase my students chances for long-term flourishing. I believe that every one of my students has unique gifts within them that, when placed in the proper circumstances, will allow them to make positive contributions to the world that only they can make.

The question is, How does a teacher promote human flourishing?

When I first started teaching, I thought it was simply by being a positive role model in my students’ lives. Then I thought it was giving students a positive experience in school. Then I thought it was giving students a lifelong love for reading and writing (note: I’m an English nerd).

But now that some of the first students I ever taught are ending their senior years of high school, these thoughts are under review.

What does it matter if Davonte is a lifelong reader that can’t comprehend the complex texts? Will Kristen’s future employers promote her if, despite her love for writing, she can’t produce conventional sentences?

Now, I think that my job as a teacher is to be a positive role model and it is to provide positive learning experiences and it is to instill a love for reading and writing, but it is also (and primarily) about equipping them with the tools they’ll need to open whichever doors they choose.

In short, I want my students to be college and career ready — and then it’s up to them to determine how to use that readiness.

What does this have to do with the CCSS?

The CCSS are designed with college and career readiness (CCR) centrally in mind. In essence, the anchor standards are supposed to be a list of things that CCR students can do. These are the things that we want our students to be good at when they walk across our graduation stages — as determined by the CCSS.

Now, rather than looking at these standards and saying, “Wow, my kids can’t do this. This is unreasonable,” it seems most helpful to me to determine simply whether or not these skills are needed in the world of work and/or college. Toward that end, I’ll be trying to imagine real-world scenarios in which each anchor standard could be used. Based on a preliminary reading of the CCSS, I’m looking forward to that task. Unlike content standards that I’ve seen (in contrast to the CCSS, which are mostly skill standards), real-world scenarios should be easy to come up with.

Or not? What do you think? Do the CCSS paint an accurate picture of CCR? Leave a comment below!

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2 Responses to Can the Common Core State Standards Promote Student Flourishing?

  1. Erica Beaton (@B10LovesBooks) May 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Agreed! Yes, we do need to be a positive influence, create a supportive environment, and instill a love of reading/writing; however, this can only prepare our students for so much. We need to challenge students with real-life scenarios or, as Kelly Gallagher calls them “imaginary rehearsals” for life.

    Honestly, it’s such a joke if teacher think their students are doing this with 65+ multiple-choice question tests. We must accept that no matter how many pages of the textbook we assign, our students cannot be expected to learn all of the current standards, let alone explore deep understandings about real life.

    In Wiggins & McTighe’s “Understanding by Design,” they suggest that students reveal their understanding most effectively when they are provided with complex, authentic opportunities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess. These are the real-life scenarios the CCSS are trying to promote. So, if we simply begin with the end in mind and use backward planning, we should be able to teach the CCSS with success.

    • davestuartjr May 8, 2012 at 2:47 am #

      Amen, Erica. I think the struggle with those who use large multiple choice tests is, like you said, feeling that they need to cover overabundant standards. See you tomorrow in school 🙂

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