Educator: Common Core Standards Will Benefit U.S. Education

Texas Tech expert available to comment on Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Pitch

Before he was a professor, Daniel Carpenter was a high school science teacher who, instead of teaching definitions and diagrams, took his students outside and invited them to learn about ecosystems, biodiversity and the effects of pollution from nature. At the end of the year, his students scored higher on the state assessment test than students who learned from a traditional curriculum.

This type of curriculum, called project-based learning, teaches information to students in a real-world context. Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards, both of which were developed by a coalition of states and experts, seek to promote this type of learning at all schools so not only are students better prepared for college after graduation but also so a student moving from Texas to anywhere else in the country would be at the same level as his or her peers. More than 40 states, not including Texas, have adopted the standards

Carpenter taught for 20 years and received awards from the National Association of Biology Teachers and National Science Teachers Association and advised the National Science Foundation, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Energy. He is researching instructional improvement models and collaboration and how it impacts school achievement, particularly in student test scores.

Expert

Daniel Carpenter, assistant professor of education in science education, (806) 834-6660 or daniel.carpenter@ttu.edu

Talking Points

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  • The United States is not adequately preparing students to move into STEM fields. For decades U.S. schools have used the “early factory model of production,” designed to move students through efficiently but doesn't allow space for much creativity among students or teachers.
  • The Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards were created to help U.S. education be competitive with the rest of the world. They are not curricula. Education experts set measurements outlining what skills and abilities students should have at specific age levels to match education in other First World countries.
  • For the standards to be successful, administrators need to guide instead of direct teachers, and teachers need to guide instead of direct students. This will allow for inquiry-based, student-directed learning that teaches students how to apply what they learn.
  • Much of the pushback against the Common Core comes from asking teachers and administrators to take a critical look at how they have been educating students, which is difficult. Too often the assessments, especially student test scores, unfairly point fingers at teachers for being ineffective when the problems are much more systemic.

Quotes

  • “Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards put us on common ground. The problem is there are so many misconceptions about what that means and what it looks like and where it came from that we don't even want to look at it right now. We're still locked into the early factory model of production.”
  • “There are solutions if you are willing to get out of your comfort zone as an educator.”
  • “I had kids do all kinds of projects, and it was stuff they told me they wanted to do after they had these early, smaller projects.”
  • “This is really getting teachers to take a step back and look at themselves and be accountable for their data instead of getting so defensive all the time. And to their credit, it's easy to be defensive when people are pointing fingers at you.”

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