No standards left behind

  One’s elementary and high school education is perhaps the most important preparation for college and the workforce.                   Recently, numerous states throughout the country have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative in math and language arts.   On Monday, Oct. 10 the Vermont Council for Teacher Educators held a conference at UVM to discuss these standards and their implementation in the state of Vermont.                    “Vermont is going to adopt the National Standards in math and language arts,” said Ellen Baker, director of teacher education at UVM. “Forty-four states already have these standards; by adopting them kids get consistency, compete better nationally and they get more college and career educated.”                   The participants in the conference at UVM were educators in grades K-12 and some college educators as well, Baker said.                   “During the morning the participants were given an overview of the Common Core Standards and the implementation of these standards,” Baker said. “In the afternoon, the conference was divided into three groups:  K-12 math educators, K-12 language arts teachers, and higher education. ” this is the first time they’ve all been in the same room together to begin discussion about these standards, she said.                   The Common Core State Standards Initiative will provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them, according to the Common Core website.                   “I work in a program that prepares students to be teachers,” Vermont Department Educator Jane Goodman said. “I attended the conference because I wanted to learn about the new standards that were going to be expected in language arts and math so I could better prepare future teachers.”                   Some students said they have mixed feelings about the Common Core Standards.                   “I do think it’s a good idea to have a standardized system throughout the country,” junior Eden Karnes said. “But different students are interested in different things, and I think that if you have these standards then those students may not be considered up to par.  I also think that socioeconomic status will affect how these standards work, because some schools don’t have as much money as others.”                   Questioning these standards appears to be a common theme among UVM students.                   “I think these standards are a good idea in theory,” junior Tess Lippincott said.  “But a lot of states might struggle to keep up these standards and I think that could make the education unequal.” Some schools will have no trouble meeting the standards while others from lower economic areas could be considered a failure, Lippincott said.                   Though some students said they wonder whether or not these standards will work, others already have their minds made up.                   “If schools have standards across the board I think teachers may try and teach to these standards rather than to the students,” junior Helen Cobb said.                   One aspect of the Common Core Standards that some students have an issue with is the apparent uniformity that comes along with national standards.                   “College is where you meet different people from all different places,” sophomore Janelle Sarnevitz said. “I think that these standards may take away from the uniqueness of each individual person.”