Jennifer Alexander, CEO of ConnCAN

Regarding a recent submission to The Mirror (“Flawed at the core,” March 17, 2014), it is unfortunate to read about the confusion and misinformation being spread about the Common Core Standards.

Educators, families, business leaders, organizations and policymakers across Connecticut share a common desire to see improvement in our public schools because we know that a great education is key to building a bright future for our children, our communities and our state.

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Right now, too many kids are graduating from high school in Connecticut unprepared for the challenges of college or careers. For example, 65 percent of Connecticut students who attend state colleges or universities need to take remedial coursework. This is demoralizing to kids and costs our state millions.

It’s time to raise our expectations for everyone

The Common Core Standards are an essential step towards ensuring that all Connecticut students have a promising future, and that no student is denied the opportunity to attend a great school because of their zip code, race or family income.

The Common Core Standards is a set of goals and expectations for what our state’s students need to know and be able to do at each grade level in order to be prepared for college and their careers. The standards outline what students should know – but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Importantly, curriculum choices are still solely in the hands of our local school districts and teachers.

Results from a 2013 survey conducted by the National Education Association showed that three out of every four teachers are in favor of the Common Core State Standards. Educators, like many other groups of supporters across our state, understand that Common Core is essential to our children’s future and to our state’s economic and civic survival.

The March 17 article claims that through Common Core standards, “all students will not reach their potential as learners and thinkers.” The reality is that these high standards are not about teaching our students how to fill in a bubble and take a test. Rather, they encourage teaching students knowledge and skills that are robust, rigorous and relevant to the real world – and will ensure our kids are on track to succeed in today’s technology-driven and globally connected economy.

These standards focus on developing the skills that colleges and employers say students need to know in order to be successful. Despite misinformation that currently abounds, Common Core gives educators the opportunity to encourage our students to become better problem solvers and more critical thinkers, as well as make connections across subjects. Instead of rote memorization, these higher standards are designed to challenge students to use evidence to support their ideas, comprehend the “why,” and engage more deeply with the material.

Our children deserve great educations that will prepare them for bright futures. Common Core does just that. These high standards are a huge leap forward that will help us better support our students and best prepare them for success in college and to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

Jennifer Alexander is the CEO of ConnCAN (Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now), the New Haven-based education advocacy organization.

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