The Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core) and related efforts play an essential role in helping the education community as a whole achieve personalized education. From a student’s perspective the Common Core provides the pathway for developing constructive skills for each individual student, while avoiding education anarchy. The debate that efforts such as the Common Core will narrow a student’s educational experience and lead to less differentiation is mute as our work with states and local districts and institutions shows a great synergy between skills and personalized education. The development of the Common Core is an important effort moving us in the direction of understanding of the progression of skills that can serve as the foundation on which personalized education can be built.
Many people are now coming to the understanding that a personalized approach to education can be very powerful, particularly if students can focus their educational progress toward their own individual goals. One of the challenges with personalized education is avoiding what we think of as educational anarchy. “If I get to pursue my goals, I might just ignore essential skills I don’t like and avoid foundational learning to get to “the good stuff.” The Common Core and related efforts play an essential role in helping us achieve personalized education and yet avoid anarchy.
The common understanding of skills and ability to track their progression is an essential first step in constructing a map of the inner-relationships between skills. A great deal of work has will continue to be done to understand how the acquisition of one skill builds the foundation to acquire another. This additional level of detail makes it possible to support a student toward proficiency with a new skill. In addition to the Common Core, there continues to be a great deal of important work in defining skill acquisition pathways. This powerful information has always needed a common structure to hang it on so these pathways can be used to achieve commonly understood educational milestones. The Common Core provides this structure.
One of the questions often discussed is the Common Core’s fundamental reference to grade level. We view the Common Core’s impact to represent a progression of skill acquisition that would get a student to an accepted level of proficiency over a P-12 career. The Common Core will help establish that common structure to allow variation from the timeframes based on the progress of either individuals or groups of students. Having that common base structure also makes it possible to understand how a student could move from one curriculum to another without being either “lost,” or worse bored.
We are very excited to be working with some of the states that are leading in the definition and implementation of the Common Core and learning more how it is helping us achieve our mission of helping each individual achieve the most effective education possible.