Teacher: Common Core frustration stems from lack of curriculum support

Teacher: Common Core frustration stems from lack of curriculum support »Play Video
Darryl Coppedge, a third grade math teacher in the North Clackamas School District, teaches his class. He says some teachers are overwhelmed with Common Core and are leaving teaching.

It’s a controversial change coming to – or already in – your child’s classroom, and this week, millions of students across the country began "field testing" Common Core.

Oregon and Washington are two of the 36 states, plus the District of Columbia, that are participating in the so-called "dry run." But because of spring break, the small percentage of kids participating in the field testing will begin that process next week.

Already there is a backlash from parents feeling frustration with the new benchmarks. Some parents say their kids have lower grades or can’t help them with homework because they don’t get it either.

Even some teachers have felt overwhelmed.

“They're in the trenches, they're making what works, it's survival,” said Darryl Coppedge, a third grade math teacher in the North Clackamas School District. He said while Common Core provides new standards, it doesn’t come with new curriculum or materials. “You’re trying to gather materials and they're not out there, and we have to buy them sometimes.”

He’s spent his own money and even more of his own time in order to feel confident teaching the new way. He said some teachers are overwhelmed and leaving teaching.

"It's really hard, and you’re losing a lot of teachers."

Still, when asked if he would implement Common Core if he had a choice, Coppedge said, “I would, but I think along with it needs to come more support.”

Coppedge feels Common Core is not only better for students who have to move from state to state, it’s also potentially better for helping students apply math to real-world scenarios.

“I want them to understand 3 times 4 one way, backwards, inside out, every which way,” he said. “(Parents) are expecting us to go straight to just fluency, but we spend a lot more time understanding what is multiplication and division.”

In other words, forget the flash cards for now.

Coppedge isn’t complaining about the pressure he’s felt; he’s getting creative, instead. He’s lined his classroom with kid-friendly explanations of the Common Core standards and feels he’ll do his best to make them work for the common goal: educating students.

“It takes more time, and it takes a skilled teacher.”

A spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Education said teams of teachers continue to get training and there are resources available for both teachers and parents.

She reminds people that Common Core isn’t a federal mandate. States decided to implement it because too many students graduate high school but fail in college or the workforce.


Learn more about Common Core:

KATU's political show, "Your Voice, Your Vote," also did two shows on the topic. Watch them below: