This year was our first year implementing the Common Core Standards and a reoccurring word that is used when describing the standards is they are more rigorous than the previous state standards. In Louisiana there has been growing opposition to the standards by both parents and politicians. One common statement that has been made is that the standards are common and they are not as rigorous as the previous state standards.
Rigor is understood in the educational arena as instruction that challenges a students ability to think. Bloom’s Taxonomy serves as a guide for instruction when determining the rigor of a lesson. The levels of Bloom’s are remembering,understanding, applying,analyzing, evaluating, and creating. I’ve heard parents say or brag about their child learning multiplication facts in first grade, but what parents do not understand is remembering is the lowest level of thinking and it does not require much thought process and only requires a child to recognize numbers. So, learning multiplication facts is rather easy if a child sees them often and has a good memory.
I have been teaching for 14 years and this year I can say that implementing the Common Core State Standards did not only increase the rigor in my instruction but it also increased the amount of thought that I put into planning my lessons because the skills were more complex when taught to younger students. For example, increasing the amount of non fiction text that students in grades k-2 are exposed to increases the rigor of instruction because it exposes students to tier 3 words, or content specific words, which help to build their vocabulary early rather than late in elementary. Many critics of the Common Core Standards see this shift as unnecessary because the belief is that students in k-2 should be reading and hearing fun stories because school is suppose to be fun. Also, I have heard educators complain about teaching students multiple ways to add, subtract, multiply or divide. This practice also increases the rigor of simple math lessons because it challenges the students ability to determine when a strategy is appropriate or not appropriate to use during computation.
Whether you love or hate the Common Core State Standards one statement that cannot be made is that the standards are not rigorous enough or do not challenge the students thought process. As a TAP Master Teacher one statement that always stuck with me is that thinking is the process and student work should be the product of thinking.