High Expectations & Common Core

By Michael Marzano August 2012

Since the beginning of my teacher training, I was told that the Illinois State Standards were lacking. Not even insufficient, but vague and with little rigor in what I should have expected from my students. Luckily, we have been using the College Readiness Standards for science in our classroom to monitor skills, and roughly structured our Environmental Science curriculum around PSAE standards. While these have been helpful in modeling our instruction and content, I believe they are still lacking in specific focus, rigor, and appropriateness to grade level. This is why I have, for the last two years, been a strong proponent of national standards that would do away with poorly structured, low expectations, and politically driven curriculum standards every state has lamely thrust upon their education system. The fingers have been pointing in many directions, from teachers to funding to Facebook, for the decreasing success of secondary education. I have consistently emphasized that without accountability and standards voicing high expectations, our students won’t possess the drive we want from them in achievement.

The common core standards, while not perfect, are a manifestation of this belief that states do not have the ability to develop highly rigorous or effective standards, and that our country should be unified and aligned in our secondary teaching. Especially considering that students will be pushed forward from current expectations from K-12. Though we won’t see the results in our high school for almost a decade, I am glad to have a more rigorous standard to hold my students to. Sadly, there is no science common core, and we have once again been asked to utilize both the reading and math instead of a specified science standard. While science incorporates all subjects of study, reading and math especially, there are many scientific skills and methods of thought that will be left out of these modern standards. I am hopeful that one day they do develop science common core standards, and have heard conflicting evidence that they are on the way, however I can take solace in the fact that our students will be once again asked to push their zone of proximal development instead of remaining simply in their comfort zones..