ANNAPOLIS – As some parents battle against the Common Core State Standards, many students go about their studies mostly unchanged.
That’s especially true for those taking mostly Advanced Placement classes, which allows students to receive college credit for courses if they score well on exams.
“I haven’t seen a difference because of my schedule,” said Else Drooff, 18, a senior at both Broadneck and Severna Park High Schools, both in Anne Arundel County.
The Common Core standards set universal goals for students to achieve and were implemented by the Maryland State Department of Education last fall. Various groups developed Common Core, including the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
“Common Core is just the standards, the centralized basis of what each student should know when they graduate from high school,” said Benjamin Barsam, 17, a senior at Bel Air High School in Harford County.
“They’re more rigorous,” said Drooff, who tutors elementary, middle and high school students, and has noticed the change in the coursework from Common Core through her mentees. “They delve into the topics a bit more. I like the new curriculum.”
Despite greater demands, these upper-level students said they and their peers with AP-heavy schedules haven’t felt much of a change.
“It never affected me,” said Edward Town, 18, a senior at Huntingtown High School in Calvert County. “It doesn’t affect AP classes.”
“A lot of the way AP classes were structured were like Common Core, even before Common Core was implemented,” Barsam said.
Cody Dorsey, 17, a senior at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore City, is only taking two classes, neither of which are AP, and spends the rest of the day interning. He also said that he feels no change.
Each of these four students are representatives on their respective county Boards of Education. All are all college-bound. Barsam will attend the U.S. Naval Academy after graduation and Drooff, Dorsey and Town have yet to decide what college they will attend.
Maryland held the highest percentage of seniors in the country to receive a passing grade on AP exams in 2013, according to a report Tuesday by College Board. The state has also led nation in AP success for the eighth consecutive year, according to a press release from the Governor’s Press Office.
While some parents have expressed disapproval of Common Core, these students said the educational politics of the policy haven’t stretched into classrooms.
Town noted: “Most kids don’t know what Common Core is.”
And Dorsey said, “The [high school] students I speak to, they can’t really tell the difference.”
Barsam and Drooff were reluctant to comment on the effects the new standards have had on students in classes outside of AP.
“Perhaps the low-level classes are not being spoon-fed as much [as they used to be],” Barsam offered.
One controversial aspect of the new standards, which are accompanied with a new teaching style, is the vastness and speed of the implementation.
“The biggest thing is the adjustments,” Drooff said. “They’re growing pains and they’re something we all have to work together with.”
“There’s a learning curve to be had with anyone,” Barsam said. “With any change, there’s going to be some pushback at first.”
Last week, parents filled the House Ways and Means Committee room to testify in support of a bill that would repeal Common Core in Maryland.
“They [parents] haven’t been in school for a while,” Drooff said. “My curriculum was different than the students now, but it’s quite a bit more similar than the curriculum 20 or 30 years ago.”
A major concern parents presented was that student’s grades have dropped.
Drooff, however, thinks parents shouldn’t “focus so much on the grade” and that students will “be more prepared for college and a career” later on.
She also recognized that parents are aggravated.
“Parents see their kids are in elementary school and they’re frustrated because they can’t help them,” Drooff said.
But parents aren’t the only ones dealing with the complications of a new system.
“Teachers across the board are frustrated,” Barsam said. “Teachers are saying the work is being piled on and they aren’t being compensated.”
Barsam, Drooff and Town agreed that Common Core may become beneficial once the standards have settled in.
“In the end, maybe it’ll have a positive result and will improve the standards,” Town said.
Barsam said: “Once we’ve got these changes down, I think it’ll be really smooth and perhaps better than before.”