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Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Making Common Core Work in Rural Mississippi

One of the huge advantages to the new higher common standards is that, for the first time ever, students in Mississippi will be held to the same learning goals and expectations as students in Massachusetts. In more than 40 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, what students know and should be able to do will no longer be limited or artificially dumbed down based on state borders. These standards will help ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career and life, regardless of where they live. While much has been chronicled about the state, urban and even suburban experience with the new standards, there has been sparse coverage of the rural transition. A recent story, In Rural Mississippi, Optimism for Common Core, helps provide this view and looks at Quitman County, a rural district in Mississippi and its schools’ transition to the new Common Core State Standards. The article notes initial local apprehension toward the new standards, especially with their students who are performing below grade level, but it also highlights how teachers and school leaders see the value and opportunity that come with the new, higher expectations:
It seems like a lot of work to solve a division problem. But this kind of lesson emphasizes what principal Cytha Guynes says is another goal of Common Core: digging deeper, or helping kids understand what math is beyond drills and rote memorization. “You can try to teach a trick, and you can try to teach the steps all day long,” says Guynes. “But unless students really understand that division is splitting and multiplication is growing, you know, we’re really not doing for our students what we want to do to prepare them for the critical thinking that’s required at the college level, the collegiate level.”
As has been noted before, Mississippi has historically struggled in ensuring all of its students graduate college and career ready, and the Common Core State Standards represent a huge opportunity for the state and its students. The Quitman County teachers who have worked closely with CCSS are showing great promise and belief that they will help students achieve more.
Ann Whalen
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...

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