Group of teenage students sitting in the classroom and writing in the notebooks

Viewing the Common Core as a living document

by Claire Miller

In 2010, the Georgia Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of national academic standards in math and English language arts that have now been adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Critics have decried the standards as a one-size-fits-all approach to setting curriculum for teachers, but Assistant Professor Sarah Bridges-Rhoads worked with Mars Hill University’s Jessica Van Cleave to look at the Common Core as a living document in a piece for the National Council of Teachers of English’s English Journal.

“Recently, we have found promise in … shifting the focus away from locating the meaning of the CCSS toward an examination of how that text can be read and understood in a specific historical, cultural and political moment,” she writes.

By considering the Common Core as a document that does not have a single meaning or interpretation, Bridges-Rhoads and Van Cleave take into account the idea that teachers can make multiple careful and informed readings of the Common Core’s standards. On the basis of those readings, they can create unique lesson plans that respond the specific needs of their students.

In addition, they argue that educators should think about the kinds of questions they’re asking about the Common Core as its implementation continues.

“The CCSS represent one entry in a long line of entries in the recent history of the standards movement in the United States,” Bridges-Rhoads writes. “However, we believe that changing conversations about the CCSS away from battles between the right and wrong way to read them and toward questions of what possible readings we might enact, presents an opportunity to shift how the history of the CCSS progresses from here.”