Maria Hersey

What Is Missing in the Common Core Standards?

Life in the 21st century is evolving at a rapid and challenging pace, creating a renewed focus on the lack of fit between what education is and what it needs to be. In the United States, the most recent call for education reform is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which highlight the importance of curriculum alignment and integration, a respect for multiple perspectives, and the provision of a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and career readiness.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) recognizes many areas of convergence between its aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect and the standards. However, as recently noted by a panel of education experts, including members from Columbia University's Teacher's College, PARCC, and Achieve, life in a global society demands a balance among cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills, which the Common Core State Standards Initiative has yet to define. The group concluded that IB programs should be a critical part of the way forward.

According to Yong Zhao in World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, the Common Core standards do not define the skills and abilities related to global competence that will prepare future generations to live and interact with people from different cultures. In contrast, embedded in the IB mission is recognition of the importance of collaboration, crosscultural communication, and respect for multiple points of view. The IB learner profile encourages habits of inquiry, reflection, effective communication, open-mindedness, respect, and caring for others.

The IB offers the education community a uniquely global perspective when discussing education change in the context of the Common Core standards. The standards identify essential academic standards and competencies, or the "what," while the educational frameworks provided by the IB standards and practices, on the other hand, including criteria and quality assurance, define the "how" and "why."

Ensuring our students are prepared for their futures depends on the collaborative efforts of educators, parents, policymakers, education thought leaders, and the larger community. The IB has made a commitment to continue to draw on school reform initiatives like the Common Core standards to continue to lead the way in providing a pedagogically current and international education based on research and best practices.

Christine Tell, Director of State Services for Achieve, stated that the easy part of adopting the standards "is moving away from the mile-wide-inch-deep curriculum ... [with] scattered topics that don't build upon a foundation to coherence, thinking across grades, and linking to major topics." The harder part, according to Christie L. Fox, the scholar's program coordinator at the Utah System of Higher Education, will be introducing concept-based curriculum and interdisciplinary learning to educators more accustomed to teaching content separated by grade level and subject. "Our teachers will, themselves, have to be global thinkers." Fortunately, IB educators already are.

Dr. Maria Hersey is currently serving as a regional development specialist for the International Baccalaureate (IB) and serves as an international IB consultant for school districts, government agencies, and education associations, and previously held the position of Primary Years Programme (PYP) regional manager for IB Americas. In addition, she has worked as an elementary curriculum coordinator, primary classroom teacher, IB workshop leader, site visitor, and school reform consultant.

Comments (2)

SC Singh

February 8, 2013

Yes, IB is a great way to help teachers and schools become a student focused - Inquiry based school.  It is interdisciplinary already - making Core standards easier to implement. We have been working hard at Farmdale in LAUSD.  LAUSD 13 schools working towards becoming IB schools.  These schools are public intercity title 1 schools that want to do their best for their students and communities.  It is not easy - lots of work, but well worth it.  Congratulations to Farmdale ES, El Sereno MS, and Wilson HS - the only LAUSD IB Authorized Pre-K to 12th feeder pattern in LASUD.  Go Team!!!

Tracy East

February 11, 2013

As a kindergarten teacher,IB Coordinator, workshop leaders and site visitor I am very excited to see common core coming. I definitely agree that for our IB school (authorized 2004) the transition will be much smoother than for other schools in our district that are not an IB school.

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