Last month, more than 130 scholars representing many U.S. Catholic colleges and universities signed a letter condemning the Common Core as doing "a grave disservice to Catholic education in America." I have little doubt that as I continue to visit with schools, Catholic school parents, who are smart and well-read, will reference this letter as a chief source of continued uneasiness about the standards. With this in mind, and with due respect to these scholars who have every right to challenge the standards, let me offer a few thoughts on the points made in this letter:
It seems that there is a lot of conflicting information coming out about accuracy and complex text. In the April edition of The Reading Teacher, Richard Allington wrote an article pertaining to struggling readers. In this article he says that there are studies showing the benefits to teaching children using text where their accuracy is high. Our district just raised the running record accuracy rate expectation to 95-98% accuracy based on the current research. Yet, your blog postings pull in the opposite direction. How do teachers know what is right and what is wrong? After all, teachers want to do what is best and most effective towards student learning.
Common Core, love it or hate it, if you're teaching in the United States there is a good chance that you'll have to work with it. If that describes you, take a look at these five tools that can help you create lessons aligned to Common Core standards.
One of the nation's leading researchers in the design of the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts is visiting Jefferson County Public Schools this week to see how educators in Louisville have implemented the standards in their classrooms.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Kentucky was the first state to "sign on" to CCSS, and also the first to assess Common Core with a standardized test.
Most teachers believe that the new standards promise better learning for their students, and an overwhelming majority of teachers say that their schools have already made significant progress toward implementing the standards, including relevant curriculum changes and professional development.
But findings from this survey also show that, for the most part, the heavy lifting of aligning curriculum and instruction to the rigor of the CCSS still lies ahead:
When Florida decided last month to withdraw from a consortium of states that is writing tests for the new Common Core academic standards in math and reading, it sent a ripple of concern through the remaining states.
Florida’s departure from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) came after two other states, Oklahoma and Georgia, decided to stay loosely connected to the consortium but not participate in its tests.
The loss of those three states means the fixed costs of creating new tests will be spread over fewer students, raising testing costs for the remaining states.
A study released Wednesday by Matthew M. Chingos at the Brookings Institution found that defections from the testing consortia will not significantly affect costs for remaining members.
If reading about how Common Core aims to establish the same standards across states in reading and math makes you yawn, consider some of the more controversial subjects in which the feds want to tell your children what to think, say Common Core opponents.
"The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs," states a report on the website of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.
Here, we will fact-check whether Common Core includes the federal government dictating what students should think about politics and religion.
Deb Gardner's insight:
I spy a "Pants on Fire" rating by the Truth-O-Meter! This must be a common misperception about Common Core.
One of my goals is to weave digital tools into the Common Core to design flexible, student driven learning experiences that are Above the Line as defined by the SAMR model. While this might sound like a mouthful of EdTech, I assure you that combining all that is on our crowded plates is far better than tackling each individual initiative in isolation. This idea is supported by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
How do you reevaluate, adjust, improve, and transition to a new assessment system? In the case of Massachusetts how do you take your now nationally recognized assessment system that his been in the Commonwealth for 15 years and consider fundamentally changing it? The quick answer is thoughtfully and this is exactly what Massachusetts is doing.
The PowerPoint embedded below gives the history, some of the reasons for the shift, and a more detailed look at the transition plan here in Massachusetts. I have pulled out some of the big pieces of information, but the entire presentation is comprehensive and anyone interested in implementation of PARCC in Massachusetts should find it full of information.
With field tests coming and the formation of a timeline for thoughtful implementation, communicating about PARCC becomes increasingly important for teachers, parents, students, and all citizens of the Commonwealth. The following three videos communicate broadly about PARCC and provide everyone a great orientation to this shift in assessment. Special thanks to the PBS affiliate in Tennessee for putting this out and making it applicable to anyone within a PARCC state.
Would those in the state who are so quick to criticize the Common Core help me to understand how we handle the question of the state test? What alternatives exist if we decide not to go with one of the two consortia assessments? While the Indiana standards framework adopted in 2010 would be fine to readopt, taking this route would force us to either stick with ISTEP+ or design a new, more rigorous standards-aligned assessment. The former seems hard to imagine in light of the feds' stipulation that all states adopt an assessment framework commensurate with the rigor evidenced in the consortia assessments. ISTEP+ simply wouldn't measure up. The latter seems to hard to fathom in the light of the costs inherent in designing a new state assessment.
New York is one of the first states to link its standardized tests to Common Core standards; in fact, it did so in the first year that the standards were in place. Confusion, panic, and low scores inevitably followed. That doesn’t mean we should turn back. It means we have more work to do.
Deb Gardner's insight:
See what the Chairperson and CEO of Xerox has to say about adopting and implementating Common Core Standards.
The Smarter Balanced Field Test will take place from March 18 – June 6, 2014. The Field Test is a trial run of the assessment system that helps ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair for all students. It also gives teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance of the first operational assessment in spring 2015. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.
In June 2010, Wisconsin became one of the first states to adopt Common Core, a set of national education standards for English and math. Over time, nearly every state jumped aboard. Not much controversy.
But more recently, Common Core has comeunder attack from conservatives around the country. U.S. Senate Republicans, for example, tried in April 2013 to kill federal funding for the program, calling it an interference with local control of public schools. In Wisconsin, GOP state lawmakers set hearings to review the standards; the next is Oct. 30, 2013.
By the end of the next school year, every public school student in Connecticut will have to take standardized tests that are aligned with Common Core State Standards. The state budget provides millions of dollars to help roll out the new teaching philosophy which, in addition to tests, will affect teacher evaluations, students' homework and classroom instruction. This story is by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news organization based at Teachers College, Columbia University, that produces in-depth education journalism. It examines how teachers in New York are confronting the challenges of Common Core.
There is a panic amongst writing teachers that is based on the myth that our baby, narrative writing, is shunned by the Common Core standards. I'm here to encourage everyone to take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Nobody puts baby in a corner."
NEW YORK -- On a sunny summer afternoon, teachers fill a bright red auditorium in the basement of the Soho headquarters of Scholastic Inc., the educational publishing giant. In front of them, a coach uses a big screen to show them books.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Ooops, here we go again. CCSS is not common curriculum; it's a set of common standards. Big difference.