Is Common Core the Key to More Girls in STEM?

Back to schoolAs a mom with two kids who have been thrown in deep end of California's new Common Core system at school, I have to admit after last year, our first full year implementing Common Core, I am not a fan. Though my kids (both my 6th grade Hero and 4th grade SheHero) are quick learners and pretty smart, both struggled in the first half of the year with the changes in the classroom for Common Core. Both  worked hard to keep up and made it through the end of the year. That said, I know many smart kids who never stropped struggling. And yes I say lucky, because I see some of the smartest kids I know struggling with the new curriculum.

But a study last year released by our friends at AAUW and the Center for American Progress has me rethinking my initial judgment regarding Common Core.

The study, For Women and Girls, the Common Core Is a Step Toward Greater Equity, which was released this month, predicts that the new standards set in Common Core will increase the number of women entering better-paying science, technology, engineering and math fields. According to the study which looked at children in New York, which adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, Hispanic-white and black-white achievement gaps have closed by approximately 20 percent for girls in eighth-grade math.

“High expectations and rigorous standards—including those embodied by the Common Core—are essential to raising student achievement. Success in STEM fields is crucial not only for students themselves, but for our national economic outlook,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at CAP. “Nothing should stand in the way of girls and women succeeding in STEM classes or careers. The Common Core will help build powerful academic foundation for all students.”

“Bias and stereotypes prevent girls from performing well in STEM, pursuing STEM majors, and ultimately working in high-paying STEM fields,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW Vice President of Government Relations. “Our research has found that one way to mitigate stereotypes’ damaging effects is through explicit and transparent standards, such as the Common Core. The Common Core ensures that all students are being taught the standards they need to succeed."

Could Common Core actually be the key to encouraging more girls, especially grade school age school age girls of color, to pursue careers in high paying STEM fields?

What do you think? What has your experience been with Common Core and your SheHero so far and what are you expecting in the coming school year?




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