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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Core confusion

The switch to Common Core instruction was annoying, intriguing, inconsistent and sometimes unnoticeable, concludes a survey of 54 high-achieving students — most were Latino — at nine inner-city schools.

High achievers at inner-city schools dislike working in groups and prefer teacher-led instruction, a USC survey found.

Common Core led to more “projects, discussions, group work, deep analysis of complex texts, and other classroom activities that involved complex thinking,” wrote Suneal Kolluri of the University of Southern California.

At two schools, students praised the push to explain their thinking. “The work is taught in a way where we are able to understand it and complete it and not just being able to guess our way through answers,” said another student.

However, many students complained the “open-ended approach bred confusion that never transitioned into mastery,” writes Matt Barnum on Chalkbeat.

“I like working in the old books, because they actually explain it to me,” one said. “Do you want me to learn it? Or do you want me to stare at the problem?” . . . “My Algebra 2 class, we had workbooks called ‘Common Core’ and I’m sorry, I hated it so bad,” said one of the students. “I understand they’re trying to do life scenarios. I feel like math should just be math … Our teacher as well was much more confused [than] us.”

“Many blamed the Common Core for encouraging more group work — something they almost universally disliked,” writes Barnum.

“You’re put into a group and you guys are supposed to try to solve a problem that you’ve never been taught before,” said another. “How are you supposed to do that? None of your group members know what they’re doing, and you don’t either.”

In four of the nine schools surveyed, students didn’t notice any changes, wrote Kolluri. In others, some teachers implemented the standards, while others did not.

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