Research paper topics: Common Core and educational standards

The political controversy swirling around the Common Core curriculum of educational standards shows no sign of abating.

Explore the Common Core curriculum for your educational research paper. (Credit:

Explore the Common Core curriculum for your educational research paper. (Credit:

While looking into the need and impetus for educational standards makes an excellent idea for a term paper, other research paper topics around the Common Core, from its focus on improving critical thinking skills to whether it has been effective thus far, would also be interesting to explore in more depth.

What are educational standards?

Many may think that educational standards such as the Common Core are new. However, one interesting area to explore for research paper topics is the history of such standards. Some trace efforts to create an across-the-board educational method to “Biblical accounts of the Gilead guards, China’s civil service examinations of 200 B.C., even Chinese military selection dating to 2000 B.C.” according to Setting Performance Standards: Concepts, Methods, and Perspectives by Gregory J. Cizek, published in 2001 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

So for centuries educators have sought to standardization their methods of teaching. When did the political controversy arise? Cizek feels this happened in the 1970s when mandatory testing of standards was first implemented.

What is the Common Core?

Today in the world of educational standards, the political controversy is firmly focused on the Common Core. Many parents, and even some teachers, have not fully embraced the purpose and goal of the curriculum. “The Common Core FAQ” from NPR’s nprEd blog on May 27, 2014, addressed the basic questions, from what the Common Core is, to where the educational standards came from.

The blog explains that the Common Core is the “largest-ever attempt in the United States to set unified expectations for what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should know and be able to do in each grade in preparation for college and the workforce. In short, the standards are meant to get every student in America on the same page.”

It also explains that one of the main components of the new educational standards is helping kids understand better basic concepts such as addition and multiplication by breaking numbers into components and using visualization. This is the area many parents cite as confusing, because the new methods deviate from how they were taught.

Teacher response to the Common Core

If parents are struggling with the Common Core, what about the teachers? “Teachers grade Common Core: C+ and room for improvement” by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, October 3, 2014, for The Christian Science Monitor reported on how educators are adapting to the change in educational standards. She shares the results of a survey, conducted by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which asked more than 1,600 teachers in 43 states about the new standards. The questions the survey addressed offer another area rich with research paper topics.

In schools where implementation of Common Core standards is complete or nearly complete, a majority of teachers agreed “somewhat” that it was going well. But the enthusiasm for the Common Core has dipped from previous surveys, from 73 percent to 68 percent. And perhaps adding fuel to the political controversy fire, when asked if the educational standards were good for students, 35 percent didn’t feel that the new standards would make much difference to how those students learned.

Khadaroo concluded with a quote from Margery Mayer, president of Scholastic Education, who believes that what the survey tells us about the Common Core is, “the more you do it, the more you love it.”

Want to learn more about current issues in education? Check out Questia—particularly the section on educational standards

Is there a better way to set educational standards for students? Or is the Common Core working? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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