Eric.ed.gov – The Cognitive Science behind the Common Core

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Raising academic standards has been part of the education policy discourse for decades. As early as the 1990s, states and school districts attempted to raise student achievement by developing higher standards and measuring student progress according to more rigorous benchmarks. However, the caliber of the standards–and their assessments–varied greatly from state to state. For example, Massachusetts adopted some of the highest standards and most challenging exams in the country and has some of the highest-achieving students in the nation. On the other hand, Mississippi set a low bar, and the state’s students are often ill prepared for college and careers. Recognizing that the previous patchwork system did not work, a group of bipartisan governors and state superintendents came together to develop a shared set of more rigorous, internationally benchmarked academic standards in English language arts and mathematics called the Common Core State Standards. Some worry that the standards have not been proven to improve student learning, as they were entirely new as of 2010. However, the Common Core is grounded in the latest cognitive science regarding how students learn. A review of the research base for the standards found that the Common Core promotes greater student learning in the following key ways: (1) Scaffolding student learning to provide a strong knowledge base on which new ideas and concepts are stacked; (2) Holding all students to high expectations, which promotes greater student achievement and growth; (3) Incorporating the latest research on how students learn to read to help close the literacy gap; (4) Employing both the traditional method of teaching math and conceptual strategies to provide students with a strong understanding of math and the skills to apply it; (5) Increasing the opportunities for students to learn from their peers and collaborate on assignments, which improves learning and interpersonal skills; and (6) Promoting problem- and project-based learning, which leads to a deeper understanding of concepts. If teachers and students are supported with high-quality curricula and instructional materials, a properly implemented Common Core will help prepare students to be complex problem solvers, as well as critical thinkers and readers. These six research-based practices get to the heart of how the Common Core will make that goal a reality for all students.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som lektor hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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