Common Core & the Opportunity Gap? (by Jasmine Bahramian)

jasmineCommon core standards are championed as a way to make sure every child, no matter where they live or what school they go to, has access to quality education that will help them master the skills they need to be successful. However, common core standards can also be seen as a way to benefit schools and students that achieve that standard and hold back the ones the ones that don’t.

It is no surprise that academic achievement is correlated with socioeconomic status. Students who live in impoverished neighborhoods and attend schools in those neighborhoods often lack the resources available to schools in neighborhoods with students of higher socioeconomic backgrounds. To simply hold all schools and students, without considering such factors, to the same standard can very easily result in a widening of the opportunity gap that currently exists. This will be especially true if the schools that are the most successful with common core receive the most funding.

However, I do not think Governor Brown’s proposal of allowing parents to opt out of common core standards will solve this problem. In fact, I believe that could very easily widen the opportunity gap as well. The students who will most likely be struggling with the common core standards are likely to be students affected by the opportunity gap in the first place, and simply allowing parents to have them opt out of common core standards seems like it can have the same effect as the system that was in place prior to common core which involved certain schools having easier tests than others. I think the biggest challenge with common core standards is setting the standards somewhere that will not be too challenging, but challenging enough for the vast majority of students.

  • With the vast diversity that exists among students across the nation, do you think such a standard is possible?
  • What kinds of things can we do to ensure common core does not increase the opportunity gap in education?
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4 thoughts on “Common Core & the Opportunity Gap? (by Jasmine Bahramian)

  1. Hello Jasmine. I appreciate that you can see that common core can be seen both as a good thing for schools but also can be seen at holding some schools back. It is true that schools in “good” neighborhoods have more resources available to them. I see that you are arguing that this lack of resources in the other schools make it difficult to keep them accountable to the same standards as the schools with lots of money. However, after reading “Equality of Educational Opportunity: A 40-Year Retrospective” by Adam Gamoran and Daniel Long, I am leaning toward the fact that maybe school resources do not have all that much affect on the learning gap. “The most controversial finding of the Coleman report was that school resources had surprisingly little effect on educational outcomes once family background was controlled” (Gamoran & Long 6). Basically what Coleman figured out was that the resources a school had did not really affect the educational outcomes. What affects the outcomes is where those children are coming from, their race and their socio economic background.
    I think you are making a lot of good points when it comes to Gov. Brown’s bill allowing parents to opt their kids out of common core testing. The fact is that it is supposed to be testing all children to get a sense of where the school really is in terms of educational achievement. Letting kids opt out kind of this test would not give an accurate representation.

    • Ashley,
      You make a good point. I never really looked into whether resources had an effect on the learning gap, I just assumed it did. After reading your post, it definitely makes sense that the learning gap has more to do with the kids’ backgrounds and socioeconomic status. However, now I am thinking that if school resources haven’t been shown to help these children’s educational outcome, what does? What steps can we take to combat this problem?

  2. Hi Jasmine,

    I think it is important that you connected the socioeconomic status of a neighborhood with the success rate of the common core standards. I think opportunity has a lot to do with a child’s success. If a child comes from a family with socioeconomic stability meaning income, occupational and education stability, they have a much high likelihood that they have a stabile and supportive household. Children who do not have socioeconomic stability have a lot more on their plate and things like homework get pushed aside. By creating a system that punishes schools who do not perform to the standards set in place, is creating a larger opportunity gap. One thing I can think of to help ensure common core does not increase the opportunity gap in education is to change the consequences for not meeting standards. If a school falls short we should provide that school with additional resources like extra assistance in the classroom, etc. I definitely do not believe that there is one simple solution and I do think that having a set of standards in place for public schools is a good thing. However, what we do with the information discovered after test time, like which students and schools are struggling and in what areas, accommodations need to be made to increase those test scores and get students closer to the standards designed.

    Thanks!

  3. Hi Jasmine,

    I want to say that I agree with your post in that socioeconomic status greatly impacts the type of education a child receives. I have been volunteering at MLK Jr. School and I do not think that the school is getting much of any funding. I have walked the hall ways and gone into the bathroom and have seen better in other public schools. I have talked to the teacher and the school is lacking funding, which in turn has affected the variety of resources that is available to the students. There is also little to no motivation coming from the students to want to be better and work harder. The school is supposed to be an IB taught curriculum, but not even the students know what those letters mean. Like you said, punishing the schools by not giving the money when they are already in the hole, just creates a bigger hole and a never ending cycle. Low funding > little resources > low test scores > low funding. If these students are not given the opportunity, the resources to show their potential that they might have, then they might never see how smart they truly are.

    Thank you!

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