Common Core is the new standard that 45 U.S. states have adopted. The concept is that teachers will help students dig deeper into subjects.
Carla Calevich, director of curriculum and instruction at the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District, said the idea is to cover less educational ground but learn more about what is studied.
Other Common Core priorities are to show students how to apply what they learn in real life and work with others, Calevich said.
“It’s refreshing for us, the opportunity to teach in-depth,” Calevich said. “Our vision is to prepare every student for their future. We don’t know what that future will be but we know the skills they need to be successful. They need to be lifelong learners who can collaborate.”
Brecksville-Broadview Heights has been transitioning to Common Core for two years. The switchover was completed in time for the 2013-2014 school year.
The district has been on board with Common Core from the beginning. It was part of a seven-year National Science Foundation study that examined how teachers teach.
The 2006-2013 study, called Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics and Science Education, led to Common Core.
“Even going in we felt we weren’t deep enough,” Calevich said.
“Although Brecksville-Broadview Heights is high-performing, international studies and assessments have shown that the United States is falling behind other countries. It’s because other countries are teaching deeper.”
Implementing Common Core will come at a cost. Calevich said it’s hard to quantify because the money will be spent over time but she estimates the price tag will exceed $1 million.
Much of that cost is related to technology. Brecksville-Broadview Heights wants to provide electronic devices, like laptop computers, for each student. Calevich said it’s worth it.
“The Common Core is preparing kids to be college- and career-ready,” Calevich said. “Ninety percent of our kids pursue higher education so it’s critical to have our students meet those demands.”
Inviting the real world into the classroom will also help students prepare for college and career.
“In math class, the old approach was to learn an algorithm and practice 25 problems,” Calevich said. “Now teachers have learned there is more than one way to solve a problem.”
Bruce Bradley, director of curriculum and instruction for the North Royalton City Schools, agreed that math instruction under Common Core involves real-life situations.
Students will learn, for example, how much fluid can fit into a storage tanker or how many fans can squeeze into a sports stadium.