Understanding Common Core in Wisconsin

What exactly are Common Core Educational Standards? It’s a phrase that has been tossed around quite a bit over the past few years, however many have difficulty making sense of exactly what they are.

Simply put, the Common Core is a set of guidelines for what students in public schools across Wisconsin and 43 other states should be able to demonstrate they know at a particular grade level.

Common Core doesn’t provide school districts with curriculum, but it does have educational benchmarks they need to achieve. For example, Common Core says that a 6th grade English student must be able to demonstrate that they can cite and analyze sources when doing a research project. How the student learns to do that is up to the district, but the standards say they must demonstrate they can.

Common Core is certainly not without its critics. One of the biggest complaints from parents and students is that they feel homework and in-class work has gotten tougher since the standards went into place.

“I think they are learning too much too young. They are trying to push stuff that should be done at higher grade levels.” Says mother Crystal Gillett.

Gillett says her 3rd grade daughter’s homework has gotten so challenging that even she has a hard time to helping her with it. It’s a feeling shared by many other parents across the state.

Ann Jagodzinski teaches English at DC Everest Junior High in Schofield. She served as one of the teachers who was asked to give feedback to the state about Common Core. Jagodzinski acknowledges that the class material is challenging but says it is meant to help all kids live up to their potential.

“In many regards, the Common Core is more rigorous than the standards we had previously. Things changed in regard to scope and sequence and what particular grade levels were accountable for.” Jagodzinski says.

One of the primary goals of Common Core is to ensure that students in Wisconsin are held to the same standard no matter where you live or what school you attend. One of the reasons why DC Everest Junior High Principal Steve Pophal decided to take a lead role in developing the standards.

“The old standards that we had in Wisconsin, there were so many of them it was impossible to teach all of them…One of the goals of the Common Core was to narrow down the outcomes and learning targets for kids.” Pophal said.

While Common Core is likely here to stay, it will continue to have its supporters as well as its critics. One of those is Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education. Dr. Pesta will be holding a presentation at the Holiday Inn in Marshfield on Wednesday May 14th at 6:30pm to discuss his position on the controversial Common Core issue.

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