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20 Ways Common Core Hurts Young Learners

Updated on June 23, 2017
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I'm a credentialed teacher with a master's degree in special education. I spent many years teaching preschool and kindergarten.

Common Core Narrows the Scope of Learning at a Time When It Needs to Grow Wider

Common Core misleads parents into believing early reading is beneficial, but there's no research to support it.
Common Core misleads parents into believing early reading is beneficial, but there's no research to support it. | Source

Common Core Standards Perpetuate Lies About Early Reading

Common Core – the federal government's scheme to make education homogeneous throughout the country – is hurting our youngest learners. Its K-3 standards are not research-based and perpetuate dangerous lies about early reading. Sadly, many parents are buying into these falsehoods, believing Common Core provides better learning opportunities for their kids. In truth, it greatly narrows the scope of education as it emphasizes discrete skills and not deeper, more meaningful engagement. Common Core is exactly the opposite of what our youngest learners need in the 21 century.

Lie #1: Scholars in early learning created the Common Core reading standards for young learners.

While there were 135 people on the panel who wrote and reviewed the standards, not a single one was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.

Lie #2: Scholars in early learning support the Common Core standards.

Many oppose Common Core and have started a coalition called “Defending the Early Years” to advocate for developmentally appropriate practices in preschool and kindergarten -- not reading groups, structured lessons, and “drill and kill” methods.

Lie #3: The best and brightest in their fields endorse Common Core .

More than 500 esteemed professionals – educators, pediatricians, and developmental psychologists – have signed a joint statement opposing the K-3 standards. Their statement read: “We have grave concerns about the core standards...The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades.”

Lie #4: Early childhood educators are flocking to the profession, guaranteeing we have talented teachers well into the future.

Experts predict a serious teacher shortage as college students choose more lucrative, higher-status jobs. Many are deciding a teaching job -- requiring a 4-year degree, a credential, and often a master's -- is not worth the commitment of time and money.

Lie #5 : All children should learn to read at the same age, grade level. Readiness to read varies greatly, mirroring the uniqueness of each child. Early reading does not represent intelligence or predict future achievement. Acknowledging that each child develops differently is key to promoting reading success. It takes skilled and experienced teachers to appreciate these individual differences among learners.

Lie #6: Early readers have a distinct advantage in life.

Research shows that early readers become indifferent readers while later readers are more likely to read for pleasure.

Lie #7: Phonics is the most important early reading skill.

Early readers need to make an emotional connection to books. Knowing T says “tuh” and B says “buh” is far less important than making positive associations with books – those all-important feelings of security, excitement, suspense, comfort, and pleasure that turn kids into life-long readers.

The Common Core standards push reading in kindergarten, but there's no evidence to support this early instruction.
The Common Core standards push reading in kindergarten, but there's no evidence to support this early instruction. | Source

Lie #8: The Common Core standards for K-3 are research-based.

There is no compelling research to show that learning the discrete skills on the kindergarten checklist translates into later long-term academic achievement.

Lie #9: Standardized testing with young children garners reliable results.

Standardized test results for children younger than 8 are largely meaningless.

Lie #10: The field of educational psychology supports the push for early learning.

Most of today's educational policy goes against what we have learned recently in neuroscience. Neuroscience shows us that no two brains are alike so it's foolhardy to treat all learners the same and expect the same outcomes.

Lie #11: Common Core promotes a child-centered learning environment.

Teachers have 90 standards to introduce in kindergarten. Therefore, the classroom becomes teacher-directed – structured lessons, children sitting and listening, rote learning –and not child-centered with play, exploration, and self-regulation.

Lie #12: Direct instruction is a powerful way to teach reading skills.

Direct instruction is an effective teaching method in special education but far less so in mainstream education. Research shows that early literacy is most effective when presented in an organic way throughout the school day: the children reciting nursery rhymes and poems, singing songs, dictating stories to the teacher, writing words with inventive spelling, listening to stories and acting them out, making meaningful connections between words on the page and real life experiences.

Lie #13: Teachers have a highly structured way of teaching reading and parents should stay out of it or they may confuse their children.

Parents are their children's most influential teachers and the best equipped to instill a love of books. Reading to their youngsters – making connections between their kids' lives and the characters in the books – is the best way moms and dads can promote success.

Lie #14: Parents can best help their children read by teaching decoding skills (sounding out words).

In truth, the most effective way moms and dads can help children develop a life-long enthusiasm for books is by reading to them. Their children should see them reading for pleasure (fiction books, magazines, the sports pages) and for knowledge (non-fiction books, newspapers, instruction manuals, materials for work). This gives youngsters the crucial message that reading is both important and enjoyable.

Lie #15: Earlier is better.

With the federal government's push for academic rigor at younger and younger ages, many parents believe early instruction reaps long-term benefits. However, there's no research to suggest that's true. Youngsters who learn to read at 5 aren't better readers than those who learn at 6, 7 or even later. Finland has exemplary schools and doesn't start formal academic instruction until age 7.

Lie #16: Early readers have a distinct advantage in life.

Research shows that early readers become indifferent readers while later readers are more likely to read for pleasure.

Lie #17: Common Core empowers parents.

Now more than ever parents are getting pushed out of their child's learning, even in the early years. Parents are getting the wrong impression – that learning only takes place in the classroom and students should only be taught by their teachers.

Lie #18: Common Core empowers teachers.

Common Core -- with its scripted lessons, standardized tests, ongoing assessments, and checklists of skills – strips authority from teachers. It degrades their profession and minimizes their years of education and experience. This is especially true for teachers of young children who must forsake what they know about developmentally appropriate practices and use a one-size-fits-all approach.

Lie #19: Learning to read is unquestionably the most important skill to learn in kindergarten.

Teaching discrete reading skills in kindergarten narrows the scope of learning. It takes time and focus away from promoting deeper engagement, investigation, and exploration.

Lie #20: Common Core prepares children for jobs of the future.

Common Core promotes memorization over investigation. Workers in the future will need curiosity, critical thinking, and a love of learning to succeed. In other words, they'll need all the skills once encouraged in preschool and kindergarten!

Final Thoughts

The 20 lies Common Core perpetuates about early reading are extremely dangerous to our youngest learners and to our society. As a nation, we've become too accepting of the federal government's ever-expanding role in education. As its role has grown in power and scope, the role of teachers has diminished. This is especially true for those who work with young children and we're all the worse because of it. Early learning should expand our children's minds, not restrict it.

A Must-Have for Your Parenting Library!

Parents, do yourself a favor and read this book! There's so much misinformation out there about early childhood education and Nancy Carlsson-Paige sets the record straight. Our youngest learners are getting hurt by this push for academic rigor because decision-makers don't see the first five years of life as truly unique and separate. This book encourages us to celebrate the early years and not rush them.


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