Common Core State Standards Leave ESL Teachers Floundering

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

The academic revolution that is taking place as a result of the Common Core State Standards movement has not yet yielded palpable benefits for ESL teachers and their students. The crux of the difficulties that ESL teachers are struggling with can be traced to the disparity between the quality of ESL learning materials and the provisions that are covered by the Common Core State Standards.

This glaring gap has resulted in the phenomenon of ESL teachers having to work twice as hard to ensure that their learning tools get to pass muster. It is not uncommon to find educators who pull double duty shifts just to cobble together class material that is aligned with the new standards that are being implemented.

One of the main reasons why ESL educators are hit the hardest by the Common Core shift can be related to the relative lack of uniformity when it comes to creating ESL learning materials. Some teachers previously relied on materials that they personally designed. As a result, the call for standardization has dealt a major blow to ESL teachers.

It should be noted that other academic subjects have not seen the same sense of difficulty that the ESL field has when it comes to adhering to the Common Core changes. This can largely be traced to the content uniformity that is present in other subject fields.

The developments have left ESL teachers to play an exhausting game of catch up as the Common Core Standards are being implemented faster than the rate by which ESL learning materials are being updated. The main thing that teachers need is an updated and standardized set of learning materials that are responsive to the Common Core requirements.

A silver lining can be found in the form of online learning materials but it isn’t enough to bridge the gap. If ESL learning materials don’t catch up, students will be left to deal with the fallout of a decrease in the efficacy of English learning in American classrooms.