Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Can Common Core Help Reduce Bullying?

How to Stop Bullying in Schools

Now that teachers do not have to focus on standardized testing, will they be able to stop bullying in schools?
Two of today's most important issues in education come to a head as the Common Core Standards relieve some of the pressure caused by No Child Left Behind: Can the Common Core Standards help teachers focus on whole-student needs, including bullying?

Hank Nuwer, a Franklin College professor and author of several books about bullying and hazing, is paraphrased in this USA Today article:

If several people are involved and they tell conflicting stories, school staff members might not be able to determine what happened, he said. Also, administrators and teachers are overworked, and their focus is on getting students to pass standardized tests, so bullying often isn't a priority until something tragic happens. [Emphasis added]

The focus on standardized test is perhaps the greatest and most contested legacy of No Child Left Behind; but now that more states are opting to participate in the Common Core State Standards as a means of breaking free of NCLB, will teachers have the time to focus on whole-student needs and approaches?

According to the Common Core 360 blog, the Common Core Standards are not only based in skills, they are very intentionally not based in standardized tests (also see this article from the same blog). The spiral nature of the Standards (each year, students revisit the same standards at a more profound level) even emphasizes focusing on what a student needs--even if that need does not directly relate to the academic subject.

But are educators so put off by the word "standards" that we won't take advantage of this opportunity?

Of course the Common Core Standards do not directly address helping bullies; No Child Left Behind certainly did not have any provisions for an increase in bullying due to its inordinate focus on standardized tests, either. But the fact remains that the repercussions of everything we do are myriad and difficult to predict.

So the grand question is this: can we take advantage of the liberty that the Common Core provides (and there certainly is more liberty with the Common Core than without them) in order to positively impact the problem of bullying in our schools?

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