American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.

American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.


Adoption stories


Lisa Carpenter
Macon, GA

Birth Country: CN
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

The process can seem overwhelming. There is so much paperwork to request, complete, notarize, authenticate, etc. Sometimes I thought we were going to be asked to bring the broomstick of the wicked witch of the west. I don't know what we would have done without FTIA. They were there every step of the way to guide and encourage us and answer our seemingly endless questions. If I have one word of advice to families, it would be to pick your agency very carefully.

I have never been more nervous than the day we were handed our daughter. As new parents, it was a mixture of joy, uncertainty and terror. We already loved Grace from wanting her so badly and staring at her picture for six weeks. She looked a little unsure of us, but willing to give us a chance. We knew we were going to be okay when, a few days later, we heard her blowing raspberries from her stroller. Everyone was starting to relax.

Traveling to China is indescribable. You are so tired, but want to see and understand everything so you can tell your daughter about it when she gets older. There are so many new sights, smells, and sounds. It's a little overwhelming. I wondered when we would stop thinking that listening harder would let us understand the language. Being unable to communicate made us feel helpless when we needed to take Grace to the clinic at the hotel. We felt so much better knowing our guides were going to come with us. They were so caring. It was like having family members with us at the appointments that could speak the language.

We heard about families whose agencies sent them to China without a guide. I can't imagine how stressful it must have been to get through the process without someone who knows the ropes to guide you, and it seems impossible to do without a translator. Calling Tracy and Helen our guides doesn't do justice to all they did for us. They made themselves available, day or night, to help us, and always did so cheerfully. They made sure all the members of our group were at all of our adoption appointments, handled for us the paperwork they could and walked us through the paperwork we needed to complete. They are kind, helpful women who really went above and beyond the call of duty for us. I'm sure the other families in our group feel the same way.

That's the bottom line. To accomplish this great thing, you need help. In all of our dealings with FTIA, we got help and much more. Every time we spoke with someone from FTIA, we realized this is not just a job to them, they really care about helping families get together. They recognize how precious this child is to you, and they want to do everything possible to make the adoption happen smoothly. I can't imagine going through this without that safety net. Adopting Grace is the best thing that's ever happened to us. No matter how many times we say thank you, it won't ever be enough.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.