The Promise of Common Core

Last week, I received one of the best notes that a teacher could wish for. A former student sent me an email to tell me that she was pursuing teaching, and I was the inspiration behind it. She thanked me for believing in her when no one else had. She told me that my support had given her the confidence when she needed it most. In spite of the challenging circumstances life had thrown at her, it was easy to be her champion. She was extremely bright and capable, and she had a drive to succeed.

While I was thrilled with the content, the mechanics of the note worried me. It was riddled with misspellings, had no punctuation, and used half text language. I know it was an informal email, but it made me wonder. Had we equipped her with all of the necessary skills she needed to be successful in college and career? In a world where communication and clarity of expression holds so much weight, had we given her enough opportunity to develop these tools before, degree in hand, she set foot into the “real world”? I wonder and I worry that we didn’t do enough. Not for her, and not for our other students.

When I think of that note, I think of the promise of the Common Core: to develop college and career ready students. There has been so much work to make the college dream accessible to students, but what about when they get there? Common Core addresses those vital skills and creates a cohesive set of standards that build upon each other throughout the grades. The standards allow students to develop skills and habits over time. Of course, the new standards have far-reaching implications for how we teach students. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but when I think of the impact, I know it is worth it.

I wish the best for my former student, as I do for all of my former students. I can only hope, now that they have graduated high school, that they have the tools they need to achieve their dreams. I’m looking forward to the time when I don’t need to hope, but I can have confidence that they do have the tools, and I truly believe that Common Core can help us get there.

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