Common Core Helps Students Whose Families Move

Recently, TNTP shared this post, “For Military Brats, the Common Core is a No Brainer,” and it resonated with me. As a former military dependent and current educator, I relate to the challenges and know the needs of our high transiency students.

From the time I enrolled in school until I graduated from high school, I attended seven different school systems across seven communities, two states, and overseas. This is also common for students in low-income communities. The need to move for employment, to escape the high costs of living in expensive communities (like here in Southern California), and the ebbs and flows of seasonal jobs mean families need to be mobile to survive. According to an Education Week article from last August, each year more than 6.5 million students change schools in the middle of the school year. The need for consistent instruction across school districts and states is critical.

The Common Core helps to level the unequal education so many students receive and provide consistent and rigorous instruction for all students. It allows a 3rd grade student in Compton to learn the same material, be held to the same expectations, and develop the same skills in the same year as a student in Palo Alto. If a parent moves the family from Watts to Yorba Linda because of a higher-paying job, she does not need to worry if her 9th grader will have missed the unit on Pythagorean Theorem because her child would have been taught that skill in 8th grade, like all 8th graders thanks to the Common Core.

Common Core gets a bad rap like most new things. Microwaves, cell phones, and suitcases with wheels were once new and unfamiliar, but we adapted to those and barely remember life without them. Common Core needs to be the same. We need to think of Common Core as a tool for leveling the playing field; it ensures that all students in each grade level are getting exposed to the same concepts, learning the same skills, and are held to the same expectations and given the same opportunities as peers in other areas.

Of course, we need to differentiate. As a child who was in gifted and talented classes and who was easily bored, differentiated instruction and learning opportunities allowed me to thrive academically while still being held to grade level standards. Many confuse Common Core with teaching students in a homogenous, uniform way. Standardized teaching – the actual delivery of lessons and content – should not be standardized. It must be differentiated to meet the wide range of needs of students. Strong, highly capable teachers do not teach in a ‘one size fits all’ manner. Effective, skillful teachers make sure all students are meeting all standards and teaching in a way that fits students’ needs and learning styles.

Common Core standards are meant to provide standard objectives and content, to ensure that students in Compton have the same foundational skills for college and career as children in Palo Alto. All students, regardless of where they live, deserve to be prepared for success in college, career, and life.

What do you think?

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Sandra Kinne

Sandra Kinne

Sandra Kinne is the Founder and Executive Director of Paragon Academy of Compton, a TK/Kinder – 8th grade free, public charter school driven by excellence for all. Paragon Academy opens in August 2018. Learn more at
A former Fellow with the selective, national organization Building Excellent Schools, Sandra studied more than 40 of the highest-performing schools that educate students in low-income communities. Observing best practices of instruction, school culture, and school leadership, Sandra also received extensive training in finance, facilities, curriculum, and organizational leadership. She completed five-week-long leadership residencies at Endeavor College Prep in Los Angeles in January 2017 and Great Lakes Academy in August 2017
As someone from a low-income background, Sandra is passionate about creating opportunity, access, and hope for students and their families. As a first-generation college graduate, she knows the power of an education and wants to provide an exemplary education for children of Compton, where she began her career in education 18 years ago.
Sandra was a 1999 Los Angeles corps member with Teach For America, and she taught 4th grade at Kennedy and King elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District for five years. She also taught in Syracuse, NY in a Special Education program for emotionally disturbed students and at Southside Academy Charter School, teaching 1st and 2ndgrade in a school where 97% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. She was also a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development with Teach For America-Las Vegas Valley, coaching first- and second-year teachers. Sandra served as Assistant Principal at a middle school with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. Sandra also has worked in research evaluation, consulting on education projects – including PBS Kids.
Sandra has a B.A. in Newspaper Journalism, International Relations, and Women's Studies from Syracuse University, an M.A in Education from Loyola Marymount University, and an M.P.A from Columbia University.

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