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What do teachers think of the Common Core? Here’s a look into one teacher’s story:

by Nelson Garcia

ENGLEWOOD – Even though Cerri Norris teaches kids in first grade, she is working on skills that she hopes her students will use as adults and business professionals.

“This is where we want our kids to be when they’re 18-years-old, so now we need to plan backwards,” Norris said. “If these are the skills they need when they’re 18, what does that mean that they should be able to do when they’re six years old?”

Norris teaches first grade at Cherrelyn Elementary School in Englewood. Norris has agreed to allow 9News to follow her classroom throughout the school year to explore a variety of educational issues in a project entitled: Class of 2025.

Teachers across the state of Colorado are transitioning into a new set of Colorado Academic Standards influenced an effort called the Common Core. Educators from across the country got together to create a new strategy to teaching which focuses heavily on critical thinking and problem solving skills. The reason for the change is that American students are falling behind students in other countries in various skills from science to math to literacy. Colorado is now one 44 states nationwide who have agreed to create a new set of standards based on Common Core.

“One thing that I really like about the Common Core is they’re a lot more concise and clean than the previous Colorado academic standards we had,” Norris said. “They’re easier to use as a teacher.”

Under Common Core, for example, first graders learn for the first time how to effectively express their opinions. This was not a required standard under the previous system.

“But, now we expect our students to start developing that idea that I can communicate my opinion and it’s incredibly important that I communicate reasons for my opinion,” Norris said.

Part of the motivation for creating the Common Core is that business leaders felt that too many students were graduating high school unprepared for college or for a career. Donna Lynne is president of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado and supporter of a new group of professionals supporting Common Core, called the Future Forward Coalition.

“Early intervention is a very important thing in education,” Lynne said.

She says the skills that companies are looking for in the board room begin in the class room at the younger ages.

“For the most part, critical thinking is the way most businesses operate,” Lynne said.

This story originally appeared on 9News. Read the rest of the piece here.