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College Readiness

Teacher: Common Core Must Be Given Time to Develop

Barbara Zingg is a teacher at Washington High School in Charles Town, West Virginia. She primarily teaches math, but has also taught theater, classic film and even kindergarten computer. As a fourth generation teacher in her family, she credits her late father for her love of mathematics and learning. This letter to the editor originally appeared in the local West Virginia newspaper, The Journal.
I am writing to you as a classroom teacher with over 20 years of experience. I am very concerned about the rumblings about abandoning theCommon Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards before they even have a chance to make the changes that are so needed in our state. In competitive testing, US students’ scores have been flat since the 1970’s with mastery levels of 57 percent in reading and 61 percent in math. West Virginia students have ranked between 27th in English and 47th in math on a national comparison of ACT scores. Approximately one-third of West Virginia students need remedial courses when entering college. Our students are not college-and-career ready which is costing states and students about $3 billion per year. Local colleges have four-year graduation rates averaging 23 percent. Clearly there is a problem and the Common Core/Next Generation standards are addressing that problem. Students need to become active learners, critical readers, problem solvers and independent thinkers. It is not enough to merely parrot information that has been memorized without context. There needs to be a deeper conceptual understanding. Students are being asked to develop strategies for analyzing data, test their strategies and make modifications as needed. They are being called upon to read more complex texts and base their conclusions on the texts as never before. These are the skills needed to be successful in college or in the global economy. Is the task easy? No, but what task worth doing ever is? Students and teachers will rise to the level of the expectation given to them. Teachers may not have been adequately prepared at the beginning of the transition but they have worked very hard to get prepared. Students may be struggling with the increased rigor and demands but it is productive struggle with a worthy purpose. Parents were not involved in the transition as they should have been from the beginning and feel as if they have been blindsided and there needs to be increased conversations between all of the stakeholders for the benefit of the students. The focus need to remain on the goal—making our students college-and-career ready. It is not enough to get into college or into a career training program—you must be successful and complete the degree or training program. To fail to prepare our students to do this is unfair to them. This transition is a long-term commitment to the future of our students and our state and we must stay the course and allow the process to work.
Barbara Zingg is a teacher at Washington High School in Charles Town, West Virginia. She primarily teaches math, but has also taught theater, classic film and even kindergarten computer. As a fourth generation teacher in her family, she credits her late father for her love of mathematics and learning. Barbara holds a B.A. in Education, Mathematics, and Theater from Mary Washington College in ...

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