Are the new Common Core standards in school beneficial to teachers?
The original question had to be edited. I think that the other parts can be submitted as separate questions because they are worthwhile explorations of the topic.
It is difficult to fully assess if the Common Core Standards will be fully beneficial to teachers. There are many moving parts right now and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what the movement will entail. One reality that does benefit teachers, if only because it is different from the past, is that the harsh percentage cut off of Adequate Yearly Progress is going to be refined. The high stakes element of standardized testing that determined so much and caused so much stress to teachers is not going to be as dominant. Common Core allows for greater flexibility and the idea of "mutually agreed upon standards" is fundamentally different than a cold percentage on a standardized test. In this regard, teachers will benefit in a couple of ways. Initially, greater collaboration will result. Teachers can talk about what these standards should include and can engage in healthy discourse about content and instruction. This did not happen when No Child Left Behind was so dominant. Teachers were isolated, almost being pitted against one another. Teacher X received performance bonuses for their kids doing so well, while their next door neighbor, Teacher Y, did not. Teachers were closing their doors and afraid of collaboration because of the result if one group's test scores were higher than another. Common Core benefits teachers because this is not as present.
The flip side is that so much is left to be decided. It is not fully clear if teachers are going to benefit from the Common Core Movement. Past history has indicated that like No Child Left Behind, Common Core can be coopted by outside forces or those forces that are not entirely supportive of teacher elements. Little is there to prevent Common Core from becoming another tool of power over teachers. In the end, any force that seeks to disempower teachers can take any standards based approach and use it as a weapon against teachers. The presence of money in this is not helping teachers. In such a short amount of time, education materials company have shifted from No Child Left Behind and begun the process of packaging materials to district regarding Common Core:
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, in their May 2012 report,Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core, estimates the national cost for compliance with Common Core will be between $1 billion and $8 billion, and the profits will go almost directly to publishers.
Such figures usually spell bad things for teachers. In another element, the presence of consultants and "outside resources" being brought in to "assist" Districts with the Common Core movement again takes power away from teachers. This form of external monitoring and power helps to construct realities that make life more difficult for teachers. In a culture in which the doubting of teachers and the skepticism of the education profession is at an unprecedented level, such realities do not help teachers. A final point is that with any new movement or initiative, there is a rush to integrate such items into teacher evaluations with fully understanding its depth and insight. Teachers are not helped when new initiatives that have not been fleshed out become an instant part of the evaluation method. This is where Common Core can be seen in its benefits for teachers.