Opponents call it the One-Size-Fits-All education, while supporters say it’s holding children to higher, more in-depth learning standards than current achievement tests. Common Core Standards are rolling out this year and are estimated to cost school systems millions. But what does it mean for families?
Too much, too soon, too stressful
Children will be tested earlier and more regularly. Child clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick is concerned that many of the early childhood Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate for young students not yet reaching Piaget’s concrete operational stage. And her peers at the American Principles Project are concerned that no developmental or neuropsychologists were involved in the committees for creating the Common Core. According to Koschnick, there is also little to no scientific research supporting the aptitude recommendations at early grade levels.
As Koschnick said in this video:
When standards are not developmentally appropriate, “Teachers are going to see typically developing children as delayed, parents may be informed that their children are behind and kids are going to get measured against inappropriate standards and might be held back or tracked into remedial classes that they don’t really need.”
In addition to the standards being potentially inappropriate for a child’s cognitive abilities, principals in New York, who adopted Common Core early, also say the standards are causing undue stress to little ones. They have written an open letter of protest saying the Common Core was too hard on younger children and they reported crying and physical ailments like vomiting and wetting during test taking.
And it’s no wonder the children are stressed. In Ohio and several other states, there are strict consequences for failing the third grade test. Students unable to pass a retest will not go to fourth grade with their peers. Ohio has joined others in the 3rd grade common core retention law meaning 3rd graders who fail to demonstrate sufficient reading ability on the new state standardized test will be held back.
Are Late Readers really “Behind?”
Many great thinkers and leaders throughout history reported being late readers or late bloomers in general including Albert Einstein who could barely read in the third grade and Nobel Laureates Richard Axel and Gerardus Hooft. Would Winston Chruchill, who failed 6th grade in a traditional education system, have passed a Common Core third grade test? Hard to say. But children who are labeled as “behind” in today’s world are often thought to be, or believe themselves to be, below average.
But if a slow-reading third grader is agreed to be “behind” what is required for testing, does that mean he/she is developmentally delayed or below average? The new standards push early reading and many studies show that those who start reading at 5 versus 7 show no differences by age 11. Does this mean the only benefit to early reading proficiency is the ability to take tests? In today’s public school system that question is irrelevant, as is the psychological concern of labeling students “behind” when they are initially slower readers.
What’s The Common Core FOR?
As Common Core strives to raise standards among global peers, many find it telling that top Western school systems prescribe to an opposite approach. The ever-popular, idealized Finnish school system does not allow children to even begin academics before age seven, which means reading instruction is delayed. But students in this school system do not need to read test instructions by first or even third grade. In fact, students in these high performing schools are not required to take tests or even receive grades until 8th grade.
Sir Ken Robinson’s popular TED talk explores the idea that U.S. education is outdated because it was created during the industrial revolution for jobs that no longer exist and is also modeled after an industrial process rather than considering the unique skills and talents of individuals. He maintains that a culture of testing and standardization has inappropriately labeled students and stunted curriculum. And often he points to the Finnish system as a model for how to address individual learning styles while still competing globally.
Waldorf Education and The Common Core
Waldorf Education is often cited for mimicking the Finnish system, which has a low-stress, non-testing environment for early elementary students and also takes a different approach to reading, with comprehension skills being taught first and phonics decoding beginning in first grade. What is core in Waldorf standards is catering to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts.
Waldorf educators also encourage a love of lifelong learning, which they believe cannot flourish in an environment where being slightly behind in one skill set:
- Causes undue stress and defeatist attitude.
- Elicits a label for a child as being less intelligent.
- Leads to a child being unnecessarily held back – delaying learning of other skill sets and social growth.
Waldorf Educators also subscribe to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which deconstructs the idea of one “general” intelligence ruling someone’s abilities. In other words, a slow reader is not a slow child.
Is your child at risk of being labeled “behind” because they are a late reader or an anxious test taker? Consider Waldorf. Learn more at our website, visit us, request information or call 330-666-0574 to speak with our Admissions Director.