(by Ashley Hamann)

notepad-117597_1280.pngDoes common core close or widen the opportunity gap?

Opportunity gaps refer to the way in which factors like race, socioeconomic status, community wealth, and other factors contribute to lower educational aspirations, achievement and attainment for a certain group of learners. According to the article, “Gov. Brown ‘Confident opportunity gap’ will close’” there is hope in Oregon for the opportunity gap to start closing.  Oregon has been doing lot to try and fix the problem of having the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. Funding has increased for technology programs, $12 million has been allocated to English language learners and of course now all day kindergarten is present in every school. When it comes to common core in the state of Oregon Gov. Brown has passed a bill that makes it easier for parents to opt out of their child taking the test. While she did pass this bill, she does not want the students to opt of out the testing.

If Oregon already had low graduation rates before the common core curriculum was put into place, it is possible that its implementation had widen opportunity gaps in the state. However, it is possible that common core can also help close the gap. With students from all over learning the same things as the same time in all schools, that could assure that everything has the opportunity to learn. There is no certain answer as to what, if anything can help close the opportunity gap in Oregon or in the rest of the country. However, I believe that having standards in place is a good step. The important part is to make sure these standards are being implemented in a way that works for everyone.

Questions to think about:

  • Does allowing parents to opt their children out of the common core tests benefit the school system or hurt it?
  • Is it possible to close the opportunity gap with just changing the curriculum the schools teach?
  • How can teachers best teach students when so many of them enter the classroom on various levels of understanding?



4 thoughts on “(by Ashley Hamann)

  1. Hi Ashley,

    I definitely see where you are coming from as the answer to your question, does common core close or widen the opportunity gap, is not a simple one. I do agree that having standards is necessary but like you said those standards need to be implemented in a way that benefits all students. As of right now, I don’t believe that the common core standards in all areas meet ALL students needs. In my opinion, I think they did make some progress in the area of mathematics, but I’m not sold on the language arts. The goal is for all students to be able to read, write, speak, listen and use language effectively, however for ESL students I don’t see many accommodations in place to set them up for success. Additionally, teachers have there hands full and I think more assistance in the classroom would be helpful during their literacy unit depending on the number of students with IEPs and ESL students. I work a few hours each day in a 5th grade classroom and without the additional support, I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to complete assignments each day due to the high volume of needs for students due to varying literacy levels.


  2. Hi Ashley,

    I really liked reading your perspective on this topic and for the first question you asked, I think that giving the option for parents to opt their children out is not the best idea. This gives the child an idea that there is always going to be a way out and that is not the correct format that the real world functions in. As for if there is a way to close the gap, I do belive there is but I think it has to do more with the life at home of the student has than the classroom and education environment. For example, in the volunteer work I have been doing at MLK Jr. School, those children are learning the same material as others their age in the same grade level. But these kids are so behind because they do not want to pay attention and/or they don’t want to focus in class because their life at home might be more worrying than passing some test. These kids have no motivation to do better or to want to learn. I think that if there was a way to help the life environment that would have a domino effect and be beneficial for their education as well.

    Thank you!

  3. Hi Ashley,
    I think Common Core standards in relation to opportunity gaps is an interesting topic. Oregon has so many opportunity gaps between people of different backgrounds, from different locations and from different socioeconomic status’.

    One of the biggest opportunity gaps Oregon has, though, is the gap between Oregonians and non-Oregonians. According to The Oregonian in 2016, Oregon’s graduation rate was ranked the third lowest nationally. In such a progressive state it is hard to imagine why. This is why topics like yours are so important here. I think you are right opportunity gaps and common core education have a huge effect on education. Because of the sum of these internal Oregon opportunity gaps we are lagging so far behind the rest of the country. We can do better. I think that our investment thus far is a good step in the right direction. We also should invest in the rural and urban communities that have the highest dropout rates. We need to figure out what we can do to help these students find success in Oregon!

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Ashley, I enjoyed reading your post. As for your first question I do not think that allowing the children to opt out of this test is the best thing to do. Tests are created to challenge the students minds, to test them on what they learned and what they know. If they get opted out of this at an early age, they won’t be ready to face tests in the future, that mommy and daddy won’t be able to opt them out from.
    As for your second question, I think what you’re saying may help to close the opportunity gap, but I do not think that solely it will make the impact. The third question comes back to the first question you asked. these tests are also created to show us what level each child’s level of learning is at. I think teachers benefit greatly from these tests because of that reason.. they can better help them by knowing their strengths and weaknesses and challenging those students in a different manner than they do to those that are not quite yet at that learning level.

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