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).
The Mathematics Assessment Program (MAP) aims to bring to life the Common Core State Standards (CCSSM) in a way that will help teachers and their students turn their aspirations for achieving them into classroom realities. MAP is a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley and the Shell Center team at the University of Nottingham, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The team works with the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative and school systems across the US and UK to develop improved assessment
How do you prepare a child for the working world? Experts say the same courses, skills are needed.
Mel Riddile's insight:
“Technology has driven up the complexity of virtually all professions to the point that there is no difference between the skills needed to be college-ready and those needed to be career-ready,” said Mel Riddile, a former national high school principal of the year from Northern Virginia who is now an associate director at the National Association of Secondary School Principals."
“College is not for everyone, of course,” said Andrew Rotherham, a national education policy expert who served on the Virginia state school board. “But post-secondary of some sort clearly is. The data are very clear on why a high school degree, and especially a GED, can’t be a terminal degree for someone in today’s economy.”
"The college option has to be left open, because young people often change their minds about their futures."
"...one of the guarantees of effective vocational training are the industry certifications issued to students who have completed courses monitored by experts."
Many high school vocational programs were once dumping grounds for low-income minority kids thought incapable of preparing for college.That has changed, Riddile said. “The texts with the most difficult reading levels in high schools today are the career and technical education textbooks.”
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, asked U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan what academic standards besides the Common Core are college- and career-ready.
Duncan said..."Both Virginia and Minnesota have college- and career-ready standards and aren’t in common core. (Actually, Minnesota is a halfway state. It’s adopted common core in language arts, but not math.)"
Critical thinking and analytical thinking are not the same thing. To clarify the difference between these words, let's look at their etymology (word origins). According to the dictionary, "analyze" means to break apart into essential elements. The opposite of analyze is synthesize, or put together. "Criticize" means to evaluate or make a judgment regarding the merits or faults. The opposite of criticize in one sense would be praise, or in another sense absence of judgment. Simply looking at the two definitions, it is glaringly obvious that two different skill sets are required. So why are they often lumped together? The dictionary definition of this answer would be a stupor of thought, or the condition of not thinking.
Academic preparation isn’t the only factor in college readiness. Also helping to determine whether students get to (college) graduation are social behaviors, like whether they show up for class, engage with professors and make eye contact. A new assessment from the Education Testing Service (ETS) seeks to measure those non-academic variables.
Mel Riddile's insight:
Students’ skill levels are assessed in four areas:
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
The Washington Post reports that Fairfax County Schools (Virginia) acknowledged “significant problems” administering the state standards of learning tests. In one of the nation's largest school districts, thousands of the 41,975 tests administered on Thursday alone are affected and results called into question.
Mel Riddile's insight:
Self-proclaimed school reform experts continue to underestimate the challenges in moving so rapidly from paper to online tests! Their arrogance and lack of respect for educators is reflected in their repeated refusals to ask anyone who has actually made such a transition. Obviously, they are afraid they may get an answer they don't want to hear.
Keep in mind:
This school district has a decade of experience with online testing. What will happen in states with no experience?
These tests are barriers to graduation.
Teachers will still be held accountable for the results.
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.
[Alan Schoenfeld] Meeting the Challenges of Common Core Standards
He explained that what you test is what you get (WYTIWYG).
Current tests are skill-oriented but Common Core demands more, which it tries to explain with the mathematical process standards. He says that of course content matters (obviously students have to learn the skills of math), but that the real action is in the practices. You can’t just put these on a list and check them off.
An organization that focuses on advancing professional development for educators has said that it's time for state education leaders to reform their training efforts to address the transition to the Common Core State Standards.
The District of Columbia has devoted many resources to the standards, resulting in hopes, frustrations, and the knowledge that changes are necessary.
"The district has done this more comprehensively than most places in the country," says Michael D. Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which analyzed the district's emerging common-core program. "DCPS is in full tilt, whole-hog."
"Mr. Casserly's report pointed out a pivotal trickle-down challenge facing the district as it puts the common core into practice: "how the reforms conceived at the central-office level are put into place in schools and classrooms." Also daunting: the "significant" amount of professional development teachers need and the "enormous gaps" in students' skills and knowledge."
Thus, what “close reading” really means in practice is disciplined re-reading of inherently complex and worthy texts.
As Tim Shanahan puts it in his helpful blog entry, “Because challenging texts do not give up their meanings easily, it is essential that readers re-read such texts,” while noting that “not all texts are worth close reading.”
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.