What’s So Common About the Common Core Standards

Teaching in the adult education classroom for over 10 years, I celebrated the gradation of hundreds of students and cheered on many students who decided to take the step into college. Darlene is one of those students and she had a goal to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree. Now, over $25,000 in debt and without a completed degree, I wondered what went wrong. Although my students were passing their GED® Tests and entering college, their experiences have been very similar to Darlene’s. I knew I needed to explore what went wrong.  Statistics show that only 27% of students who need remedial math reach degree completion. I needed to evaluate what it really means to be college and career ready so that my students can success.

To be college ready, a student must possess the background knowledge and skill set needed to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing college courses without needing remediation. Career ready means that a person has employment that provides a sustaining wage with opportunity to job advancement. Students must have a combination of rigorous academic and soft skills to be college and career ready once they leave the adult education classroom. The number of students who are not ready for college is staggering.

What does that mean for adult education programs, teachers, and students? It means that we must  implement the Common Core Standards in our instruction. The Common Core Standards were developed as a result of the College and Career Readiness Standards. The ultimate goal is to have programs and teachers provide students with content rich curriculum and robust assessments that are aligned with the standards. These standards are geared to promote higher-level thinking and application of knowledge.

Reading and Language Arts Standards

Students will be expected to be able to fluently read, comprehend, and interact with a balance of literature and informational texts that very in complexity. Based on material presented, students will be expected to provide and support an argument in exploratory text.  The Reading Standards supplement content standards for History / Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. This means that while students are now expected to learn specific information in a content area, they will also be required to meet the challenges of reading and writing in these domains.

Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.



The high school math standards are divided into conceptual themes: number and quantity, algebra, functions, modeling, geometry and statistics and probability. Ultimately, students need to be able to problem solve complicated problems by developing problem solving skills. Explore this video to explore the Math Standards.

Ultimately, the implementation of instruction and curricular choices based on the Common Core Standards will assist adult learners not only pass a high school equivalency exam, but be prepared for post secondary education and career growth. In students like Darlene, the appropriate preparation would have made her a college graduate, not an unfortunate statistic.
From the desk of Kathy Tracey, i-Pathways Project Coordinator.

3 thoughts on “What’s So Common About the Common Core Standards

  1. The statistics this article reports are disheartening. I agree that things need to improve and much of what is written in the Common Core Standards should address those issues.

    I do have one major problem with the implemenation of Common Core Standards and that is the higher one moves up the oversight chain, the less flexibility school districts have to meet the needs of the individual students they work with. Common Core Standards, as being implemented, assumes all students are the same and we are applying the “One-size-fits-all” premise. The less local control we have, the more rigid the system becomes and the less power we have at the local level to do what is right.

    • I agree – The one area the Common Core does not address is the remediation of instruction. What happens to the learner who does not progress through these steps sequentially in the time frame allowed? I think the critical component is educational leadership and proper planning. Several years ago, a report called A Nation Deceived was released. http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/nation_deceived/nd_v1.pdf. While the emphasis on this report is on gifted learners not having access to challenging classes and instruction, the same can be said for students who struggle under this new common core alignment. They need to be placed in classroom instruction that is appropriately challenging so they can build the essential skills. Realistically, in order to implement these correctly and do the most good for students, we need to move away from age / grade level progression and move more into criteria progression and provide avenues for remediation so students have the skill mastery to succeed.

  2. Pingback: Online Curriculum Selection – Thinking It Through | i-Pathways

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