Before Common Core, there were fifty different sets of state standards. States also covered different topics at different grade levels, which led to a lack of uniformity in students’ education and in skill expectations for each grade level.
Many argue that this lack of standardization made it difficult to ensure that all students across the United States were learning skills and objectives at same pace or level of difficulty. CCSS allowed for a consistent measure between students of different states, since students were tested on similar standards at similar times.
Another benefit of Common Core standards is that it provides a way for teachers to measure students’ progress so that adjustments can be made, and interventions can be done if a student is not meeting those standards.
However, one of the downsides of CCSS is that while there are standards of what students should learn by certain grades, there are few guidelines for what materials should be used to teach students and aid them in meeting CCSS. Thus, some schools may have difficulty in ensuring that students achieve the goals set by CCSS. While the finish line may be clear, the way to get there may be at least partly dependent upon individual schools’ and teachers’ skills, abilities, educational beliefs, resources, and circumstances.
Some also argue that CCSS do not allow room for students to have individualized instruction. For instance, if a third-grade student is reading at a fifth-grade level but is at a second-grade level in math, then how do they fit into CCSS? This same question can be asked of all state standards. The answer is the school and teachers ensure differentiation and individualized instruction, while ensuring students have mastered the appropriate standards. A student who is reading at a fifth-grade level and can show mastery of the 3rd grade standards could have differentiation at the school level for these individual needs.
Students may be gifted in one area while needing assistance in another, and such a situation requires flexibility in the students’ curriculum.