Putting Education Reform To The Test

Three Questions For Teachers About Common Core Standards, Part 1

Tricia Craig teaches at Walden Elementary School in Hillsborough County.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Tricia Craig teaches at Walden Elementary School in Hillsborough County.

Yesterday we told you that we spent a lot of time at summer Common Core training sessions for teachers.

One of the things we were curious about is how teachers felt about the new education standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states.

We asked teachers the same three questions about Common Core as they prepared for next year’s deadline to use the standards in every Florida classroom.

Name: Tricia Craig

School: Walden Lake Elementary in Hillsborough County

Teaches: Fifth grade

Experience: 11 years

Q: How well prepared do you feel for the switch to Common Core?

A: I feel totally prepared. This summer I had taken the math and the reading, and I feel like before anything else this is the first time that we switched over standards that I’m ready. We’re not really rolling them out until the following year, but I’m excited to implement the things that can be implemented this year. Because they have given us so much background in the ‘Whys?’ that it’s going to be easy.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: I do, especially for math – and reading too, because it’s more specific in reading. But for the math standards the coolest thing is that they’re taking more off our plates so that we can dive deeper into it.  Right now we’re teaching all this stuff and there’s not always time to do the ‘Why?’ But this is going to give us the time to do those whys and let our kids be true thinkers as to why this process is going on.

Q: How will Common Core change the way you do your job?

A: Our thinking has to be switched from – I’ve always been a teacher that is more of a facilitator, so for me that switch isn’t going to be that difficult. But that switch of being very precise on my vocabulary, and I need to know the concepts deeper than my students know them. I can’t just fly by the seat of my pants anymore. I have to know which students might get those strategies; which ones won’t. And I think the thing for me is going to be, I always listen to my students as I walk and facilitated but to know which students are going to be the key ones to call up to help other students.

Name: Heidi Johnson

School: Blanche H. Daughtrey Preparatory School of Arts and Sciences in Manatee County

Teaches: Second grade

Experience: 8 years

Q: How well-prepared do you feel for the switch to Common Core?

A: I feel good about it because last year I taught first grade, so I got an introduction to the Common Core already. And then I get to loop with my class to second grade this year, so I know what to expect for my kids pretty much.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: Yeah, I do because you can zero in on what they really need and they get a deeper understanding, deeper thinking and they can expand more on that.

Q: How has it changed the way you teach?

A: You’re able to hit – even though they’re for the general – but we have such a big population of ESOL (English as a second language) students you can hit all opposite ends of the spectrum.  It goes – the way I teach it – take in all of it and they can get a deeper understanding. One kid you think might not get it, the other that you think’s not going to – they actually do get it. And it’s cool to just watch the growth in them.



  • Rod Viquez

    Very well unimpressed with the role out in NJ. I feel that no one has specific answers about how this will actually work in class and what specifically are we looking for? The idea of per packaged tests from Pearson is worrying because it goes against the very idea of U B D methodology. 25k BATS are also against this corporate takeover that has no empirical evidence of actually being correct.

  • FLjags

    I wonder how much were these teachers paid for their pro-CC commentary? And why only interview elementary teachers? So many of the standards push so many concepts into grades where they are too advanced for the kids- and they aren’t going to be able to go “deeper” with concepts and really learn the “why” behind them because they will be too busy preparing for the FOUR standardized tests per year that they will now have to take. The standards for high school make no sense whatsoever. Pushing ALL kids to learn the same standards- whether they are developmentally ready for them or not- will accomplish nothing except to further demoralize struggling learners. What a joke. But hey, as long as Pearson increases their bottom line, that’s all that really matters anyway.

    • Jan Ogino

      That is really insulting. Teachers don’t get paid to endorse the standards. Teachers work their behinds off and these standards are harder to teach to but so much better for students than what we had before. I not only teach but I train other teachers and don’t get one dime more for that. Standards and curriculum are totally different things. Across the states, the students will be learning different curriculum because they have different resources and states and districts have different needs in curriculum. The standards delineate how that curriculum should be learned and practiced by students. Each grade level is responsible for taking students to a certain level of competency with the standards so the next grade has a base to increase the rigor and the level of understanding. Don’t criticize the standards until you have used them in the classroom yourself. I have for 3 years and the students in the 3rd grade that were taught the standards did better on the standardized test and it was aligned to both the Common Core and the old standards.

      • Rod Viquez

        Passing corporate made tests isn’t what education is about. When you have national standards, you will have textbooks aligned to them. This creates a de facto curriculum. Will be worse when pressure to pass tests lead to scripted lessons or demands to use the lessons that teachers use in classes that pass tests.

    • StateImpactJOC

      We interviewed elementary teachers because two of the training sessions we attended were for elementary math teachers.

      • tft

        I have a few hundred elementary teachers you could interview who would give completely opposite responses.

        So, how useless are your questions?

  • Mark Halpert

    I have spoken to many teachers and they like the Common Core Standards because they go deeper, allow the teachers to be facilitators and teach critical thinking skills. I am tired of hearing every good comment followed by, “I wonder how much they were paid” The Common Core Standards have many good attributes — the danger is that teachers, schools and students will be “Punished” because scores drop because the tests are harder. We need to work through that issue and make sure the Privatization Express does not capitalize on the opportunity because the real people were unaware of the consequences — we need to fight the Parent Trigger and other egregious bills and actions

    • tft

      In younger grades the CCSS are completely inappropriate.

      Also, are you saying that you couldn’t go deeper prior to the CCSS?

      I know in many districts the CCSS were met with scripted curricula chosen by the district.

      I see nothing positive in the CCSS. Nothing. Unless you work for McMillan or Pearson or a CMO.

  • knreads

    Your quotes sound like they are from the questionaire at the end of a conference. having signed up to spend time learning CCSS, some workshops and speakers promising life will be better and a chance to be listened to and ask questions, leaves anyone feeling better (certainly those who care enough to answer questions on the topic at the end.) But, like the study Gates Fdtn, through Scholastic, offered, it is a selected subset. Would be a good lesson base fro critical thinking. Does not represent teachers well, too selective. That said, i’m glad there is training in more open lesson planning.

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