WASHINGTON - January 9, 2013 - Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), has released a series of action briefs on the role of school counselors, secondary school leaders, and elementary school leaders in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Look at a job description that a company owner passed along to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in a piece he wrote about the paucity of trained American workers. The company owner was looking for a welder and was complaining about the quality of some who had applied:
"They could make beautiful welds," she said, "but they did not understand metallurgy, modern cleaning and brushing techniques" and how different metals and gases, pressures and temperatures had to be combined. Moreover, in small manufacturing businesses like hers, explained [Traci] Tapani, "unlike a Chinese firm that does high-volume, low-tech jobs, we do a lot of low-volume, high-tech jobs, and each one has its own design drawings. So a welder has to be able to read and understand five different design drawings in a single day ... I can't think of any job in my sheet metal fabrication company where math is not important. If you work in a manufacturing facility, you use math every day; you need to compute angles and understand what happens to a piece of metal when it's bent to a certain angle."
We are all familiar with the idea of service in communities and service in schools. Service learning, however, has distinctive aspects that separate this pedagogy from what we often call “community service” or “project-based learning.” With high-quality service learning, students:
Increase academic rigor through relevance and application of content and skills
Participate in social analysis as they investigate an authentic community need, typically through action research using media, interviews, surveys, and observation
NCEE has just released What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?, a study of the English Literacy and Mathematics required for success in the first year of community college. On May 7th, during a day-long meeting, key education and policy leaders joined NCEE to discuss the results of the study and its implications for community college reform, school reform, teacher education, the common core state standards, and vocational education and the workplace.
In my own teaching practice, I felt that if I coaxed a non-reader to pick up a magazine or graphic novel or just about anything, I was succeeding. I tried to get them to fall in love with reading and learning by allowing them time to read whatever they wanted. I still believe offering such choices is important, but I have now come to understand that a balance is needed.
Renee Moore The majority of high school graduates in America do not go to college, at least not directly.
"while almost 50 percent of four-year college graduates are unemployed, 60 percent of all nursing graduates in the U.S. come from the nation's community colleges. Add to them the dental hygienists, plumbers, electricians, heating and air conditioning technicians, auto mechanics, chefs, office workers, medical-equipment operators and technicians, cosmetologists, barbers, truck drivers, and machine handlers, just to name a few of the people on whom we rely daily, and we realize it's the traditional college route that should be called alternative."
I often despair over the sorry state of writing and research in our high schools. Only private schools and public schools with the International Baccalaureate diploma program require research papers of significant length. Two million new high school graduates head to college every year — but only 10 percent, by my reckoning — have had to write a long paper or do a major project.
The SBAC consortium has posted minimum computing requirements and a bandwidth calculator that schools can use to measure capacity. It has also said that it would supply paper-and-pencil versions of the assessments for the first three years. Willhoft predicted that some schools in California may decide to do both in the transition, trying computer-based tests in some grades, paper and pencil in others. (The paper version will cost $10 to $12 per student more to administer.)
The PARRC, a standardized test aligned to the Common Core, includes embedded scaffolds and accessibility features “allowable for all students” (p.20) in addition to accommodations for students with disabilities. Taken together, these supports ensure the test is universally designed for everyone, which leaves no one behind.
Investment needs for teacher training, curriculum materials, and assessments are likely to slow the pace of implementation.
One of the biggest issues, experts say, and a costly endeavor, is helping teachers deeply understand the vision for science education espoused by the standards and gain the knowledge and skills to effectively deliver on it.
I think about how prepared I am to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I think about how to bridge Common Core State Standards and Career Technical Education (CTE) together.
I work in a vocational high school as a CTE commercial art teacher. Most of my CTE colleagues and I have heard of the CCSS, but we aren’t prepared to use the standards in the classroom. In doing my own research, I learned that the mission statement for the CCSS Initiative is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”
Assessment 2.0 will need lots of work to get to version 2.1 and 2.2. States and districts will improve implementation as they learn from pilots and field tests. And teachers will play an absolutely critical role in providing the consortia feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.
It's easy to criticize tests but they represent this country's commitment to improving education for all students -- particularly the least well served. The Common Core is a big step forward and so are the tests that come with it.
The Common Core State Standards reach beyond reading and writing to address speaking and listening.
Through the Literacy Design Collaborative, I'm seeing lots of potent work on these skills, with students becoming more able to do this work and teachers developing new insights into what further support and challenge students will need.
Because about half of the high school graduates who go to college go to these institutions and because, of those who do, close to half go into programs designed to prepare them for careers and the other half goes into a program designed to enable them to transfer to four year colleges after two years.
Participants Mitchell Curry, Principal, Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School (McKinney, TX) Lindsay Fryer, Professional Staff Member, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Workforce Michael Gamel-McCormick, PhD, Senior K–12 Education Policy Advisor U.S. Senate HELP Committee (majority staff) Robbie Hooker, EdD, Principal, Clarke Central High School (Athens, GA) Daniel Wiebers, Principal, Trenton R I-X High School (Trenton, MO) Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education
“English language teachers have, for the most part, been treated as an afterthought in the discussions on the Common Core,” said TESOL Executive Director Rosa Aronson. “We held the convening to bring them into the conversation.”
Technical glitches during recent online assessments in a number of states are prompting worries about schools' ability to administer common-core testing in 2014-15.
Mel Riddile's insight:
While online testing is the way to go, I have been warning everyone that it takes a few years to work out the glitches when transitioning from paper tests to online testing. I should know because I learned this through experience in a state with eleven high-stakes EOC exams at the high school level that were barriers to graduation. We had four years to make the full transition and it was still a huge task. Doing this in one year is a recipe for disaster.