New DOE curriculum for or against NYC students?
AMBER TAFARI LARAQUE Special to the AmNews | 3/8/2013, 12:13 p.m.
With the announcement of a new "high quality" curriculum last week by New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the DOE claims it is seeking to improve education in city schools. Will this new curriculum be able to guarantee that all city students will be college-ready? Walcott believes that it is the first step.
"Over the last few years, thanks to the work our schools have been doing to transition to the Common Core standards, we have made significant progress toward our goal of ensuring that all of our students are ready to take on the challenges of college and careers," said Walcott.
But for parents and educators to answer the question of whether the curriculum will work for their children, the standard to which the curriculum is set must be understood first. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a nationwide initiative that has already been adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C. It's designed to prepare students for college and careers. The standards outline and set a higher benchmark of what should be taught in each grade across the country.
There are many advocates as well as skeptics of the Common Core standards. Some believe it to be a one-size-fits-all approach, while others argue that it is preparing students for what employers expect in the real world. The DOE says the standards "provide a clear picture of what students need to learn each year in order to graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers."
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said in a press release, "The Common Core standards represent an opportunity to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools across the city. The curricular supports we are recommending are another addition to the important tools schools are equipping themselves with to help improve outcomes for students."
Many are concerned that because not all students learn the same and do not have the same resources in their schools, the standards are not fair. Education historian and New York University research professor of education Diane Ravitch, who has spoken out against the Common Core standards, spoke to AmNews about the flaws of a common standard.
"The Common Core standards are supposed to be 'tough' and 'rigorous,'" said Ravitch. "But how does that help kids who are struggling with the standards in place now?
"If a child can't clear a four-foot bar, does it make sense to raise the bar to six feet? I would have preferred to see some evidence of how they affect children before jumping headlong into the new standards, which have never been tried anywhere," she added.
New curriculum materials will be ready for schools to order starting in the spring and they will be ready for use beginning in the fall.