Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Jack Dougherty


Forty-two states across the country have adopted the Common Core State Standards, a set of K-12 education benchmarks for English Language Arts and math designed to unify academic expectations and prepare students for college and careers. However, while state governments initially chose whether or not to adopt the standards, previous research has shown that successful implementation of this policy ultimately lies in the hands of local educators. My study therefore seeks to understand how a group of teachers interpret and act on the Common Core State Standards and in what ways these educators use creative teaching strategies to move beyond the expectations of the Common Core. Findings are based primarily on responses from ten semi-structured interviews with elementary school teachers in an urban public school in Hartford, Connecticut, in the fall of 2015. My research shows that while teachers embrace the pedagogical messages of the Common Core, these educators also actively revise and refine their teaching methods in order to use the standards as a tool for teaching important life skills. By viewing student academic struggle as an opportunity for growth, teachers use the Common Core to teach ambition, self-sufficiency, and resiliency. In addition, my research reveals a greater shift in controversy that has taken place since the initial release of the Common Core. While many people still remain critical of the policy, it is surprising to see that the teachers involved in my study generally accept key elements of the standards that were once highly contentious.


Senior project completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies.