RCL #9: TED Talk Script

My Topic: Common Core Standards


While timing may have varied from school to school, my high school shifted from the New York State Regents Exams to Common Core curriculum as I entered freshman year.  Since I was a year ahead in math, I continued with the “old” version of math courses, but received exposure to Common Core English classes.  As my high school career progressed, many of my underclassmen friends approached me for help with their questions in STEM fields.  Since science courses did not undergo any significant changes, I provided assistance in classes such as Regents Biology, Chemistry, and Physics with ease, along with other AP courses.  However, the math my younger peers were struggling with took me aback.  Since Mathematics and English education underwent a significant paradigm shift, I struggled to understand the new way courses such as Geometry and Trigonometry were being taught.  While the course matter was quite similar at the end of the day, the bizarre and unusual methods applied to the subjects dazed me.

According to the organization itself, the Common Core strives to set a national standard for how students in grades K-12 should perform in the classroom.  While a great emphasis is placed on the fact that the Common Core is a set of goals (as opposed to a rigid curriculum), its standards impact how Mathematics and English are taught across America.  As opposed to regurgitation, a deeper understanding of the content at hand is encouraged.  However, the methods through which this is attempted prove confusing at times.  Educators nationwide have adopted a paradigm shift from teaching students how to arrive at the answer to a complex evaluation of the journey which leads the student to the answer.  However, we must question the usefulness of such a system.  Are we creating a highly analytical, problem-solving group of youths or simply confusing them by upheaving an educational system which needs only minor adjustments?

Education Before Common Core

 Generalization of Prior Educational Methods

  • More decentralized approach: each state implemented its own standards for education.

New York State as an Example

  • In New York specifically, the Board of Regents developed curriculum and exams.
    • NYS Testing in grades 3-8
    • Regents Exams in grades 8-12

Cause of the Shift to Common Core

Overarching Statement from the Developers

  • A group of administrators, teachers, and state officials from 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia met to develop an educational system which recognized the importance of “consistent, real-world learning goals” (“Development Process”).

Analysis of Their Claims

  • Wanted to bridge the differences in education among the states and ensure that all kids, regardless of where they grew up, are well-prepared for college, or whatever future lies in front of them.
  • Trying to ensure that America does not fall significantly behind other countries in terms of educating our youth.

What is Common Core?

Claims of the Developers

  • Common Core is a set of standards, not a curriculum.
  • Teachers have flexibility to do whatever they desire as long as these standards are met at the end of the day

Questioning of Claims

  • Is this actually true?  Common Core seems to have vastly affected how teachers teach.
  • Bring in several interviews & analyze accordingly
    • Interview 1: Student who has experienced Common Core Mathematics and English
    • Interview 2: Teacher of Common Core Mathematics from Clarence High School
    • Interview 3: Student who took Common Core English and Regents Mathematics

Implications of the Shift

Who Does the Shift Effect?

  • Not all states have to adopt the Common Core Standards
  • 42 of the 50 states, along with district of Columbia, have adopted the standards.  Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska, Indiana, and South Carolina have not (ASCD).

The Future of Common Core

  • Seems to be having little/no positive effects on learning according to a study conducted from 2009-2015 (Samel)
  • Low on the totem poll in 2016 presidential election
  • Most likely going to be phased out.


While the Common Core was rich with innovation and superb ideas, its actual implementation proved ineffective.  With this in mind, what will the future of education look like?  Is yet another dramatic paradigm shift in the making?  One side may see few harmful effects of Common Core and assume the continuation of its usage.  However, pioneers of reform may see the ineffectiveness of the current system and predict an eventual upheaval of Common Core standards.  Despite diverging opinions, it can be agreed upon that the face of education continues to be shaped and will remain to be scrutinized, molded, and revolutionized.

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