I keep up on Common Core news religiously. In the last few weeks, I’ve amassed a stack of 30 articles and reports, trying to come up with a clever, cogent argument for what they mean when considered together.
With so many tangled veins in the debate—and with so much venom coursing through each—I almost gave up. But this morning, while reading a new account of supposedly mounting state-level opposition, it hit me: at least for the moment, the common element of recent Common Core news is the resilience of the standards themselves.
There are undoubtedly some teachers who dislike the Common Core, but recent polls suggest that most teachers support the new standards. During my three years of teaching (completed a month ago), most of my colleagues and I liked the Common Core. One reason we supported the new standards was because they gave us more freedom. Detractors claim that standards tell teachers how to teach. But I taught Common Core after teaching Tennessee’s state standards, and while Common Core did give me expectations for what my students should know and be able to do by the end of the year (just like the previous standards did), it allowedme to decide what and how to teach.
I’m pro rigor. And I believe my bona fides are in order on that one. I’ve argued for teaching children to read very early for more than 40 years; even teaching my own kids to read before they entered school (and, yes, I’m working on the grandchildren already; their ages range from 5 months to 3-years-old). The time to teach young kids to read is when you become responsible for the child and not a moment earlier.
Given all of that, I find myself in an uncomfortable position: I think beginning reading instruction (Grades K-1) is going off the rails, specifically because of attempts to impose rigor on those grades that goes beyond anything that makes sense.
This Gallup research study of K-12 superintendents in the United States was developed to track and understand their opinions on important topics and issues facing education. The survey is the first in a series of three planned for 2014.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Findings regarding Common Core:
• When asked how challenging the Common Core State Standards are for students, about two-thirds (66%) of superintendents say the standards are just about right, while (14%) say the standards are too challenging.
• Sixty-six percent of superintendents believe the Common Core State Standards would improve the quality of education in their community.
• A small proportion (4%) of superintendents strongly agree that the Common Core State Standards will prevent individualized learning.
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has an answer to that question.
In early May, SETDA launched the Guide to Technology Requirements, a website that consolidates the technological requirements school districts must uphold, listed by each consortium. It took roughly six months to build the site, which works in conjunction with a consortium of multistate agencies.
As teachers, we frequently reflect on our own planning, delivery and reception of our instruction. Without even thinking, we reflect on our students; “What are their personal, emotional, physical and academic needs?” Then, we move forward, using all types of data and feedback to carry out a bigger and better plan, a plan that will strengthen ourselves as mentors, caregivers and educators.
Often we forget to model this process with our students. It is important for them to be able to take a moment to look inward, examining, scrutinizing, and evolving a plan that works best for each of them, as individuals.
Our fifth grade students at Wellsville Elementary School took some time to reflect on this past school year, what they have learned and how they will apply it. They seem to say it all, in their own words.
Are you searching for resources to implement the Common Core State Standards? Here you will find current, relevant, evidence-based tools and professional development to smooth your transition into a new era of teaching and learning. Watch one of the videos to learn more!
The largest field test in the country of new online assessments aligned to the Common Core got underway in California this spring, and as it speeds up the state’s transition to the rigorous new standards, it may also help close the digital divide.
“This is the tipping point,” said Diane Hernandez, the director of assessment development for the California Department of Education. “Schools are starting to focus on the Common Core. We’re moving away from paper and pencil tests to a completely different format and developing more skills in terms of college and career readiness. Everything is moving in the direction of more technology, and everyone is doing the best they can to prepare for that.”
The American Association of School Administrators just released a new report calling for policymakers to slow down the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and aligned standardized tests because educators need more time to “get it right.”
Deb Gardner's insight:
Article states: "Of the 525 superintendents surveyed, 73.3 percent — say the angry political debate has impeded implementation." #wellduh #statingtheobvious #howunfortunate #politicsagain
The presidents of Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky were among more than 17 Kentucky higher education officials to join the national initiative.
"It is imperative that we have high school graduates who are better prepared academically for college and career," Benson said. "The Common Core standards will help accomplish this goal and will allow many more students to bypass developmental education courses currently being offered in college."
The Smarter Balanced interim assessments allow teachers to check student progress throughout the year, giving them actionable information to inform instruction and help students meet the challenge of college- and career-ready standards.
The interim assessments are one of the three major components of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System—along with the end-of-year summative assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics and a Digital Library of formative assessment tools and practices that supports classroom instruction.
Teachers can use the interim assessments throughout the year to gauge student progress toward mastery of the skills measured by the summative assessment and to assess targeted concepts at strategic points during the school year.
Some states don't plan to use the common-core tests being developed by PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests, but still would like to draw on those consortia's item banks to build their own tests. Are the consortia obliged to let them do that?
This video series was developed through a partnership with the Hunt Institute as part of National PTA’s ongoing effort to provide accurate information about the Common Core State Standards and to assist PTA membership with developing grassroots advocacy skills.
The Common Core State Standard videos were designed to educate parents on the Common Core State Standards and empower them to support the transition at school and at home. The videos highlight three key principles:
We need clear, consistent and rigorous standards across the country to ensure all students—regardless of their zip code—graduate with the higher order thinking skills needed for college and careers. The standards reflect the relevant knowledge and skills that young people need to succeed in college and to build and maintain an American workforce that can compete in the global economy.National PTA’s goal is for parents to be knowledgeable about the standards and new assessments and to support them every step of the way as states transition to the standards.
The myth du jour asserts that Common Core will fail to prepare students for college and instead will actually dumb down education. Yes, you read that right; detractors have gone so far as to forecast "dumber" students as a result of these higher standards for achievement.
This specious argument against CCSS falls apart quickly. Careful analysis of the standards verifies that they align with those in the highest-performing countries on international comparisons, and they have received the highest possible rating for content and rigor from the conservative Fordham Institute, a tireless advocate for higher standards.
Among college freshmen, 30 percent do not return the second year, resulting in millions of dollars lost and dreams dashed.
One reason is they feel defeated by heavy reading loads. Most are surprised that 85 percent of the learning they are to do is from texts and that their professors want them to come already having “learned” the material because class is for clarifying, analyzing and applying.
Many “good” readers have difficulty reading academic texts, not realizing that reading-to-learn is an intensely active process: a quest to construct understanding, problem-solve, and evaluate the author’s information, intentions and biases.
Partially motivated by a desire to move beyond the political strife around the Common Core State Standards, the Center for American Progress released a report last week outlining various strategies used by teachers, administrators, and elected officials to help implement the standards.
The Washington think tank highlighted curriculum development in Colorado, teacher evaluations in New Haven, Conn., and teacher preparation in Arizona as potential models for states to use as they fully transition to the standards in the 2014-15 academic year.
As Chromebooks gain serious traction in the education market, schools are beginning to work through massive deployments of Google's cloud-based laptops. For example, Milwaukee Public Schools rolled out 11,400 devices, Edmonton Public Schools rolled out 13,000 devices, and Chicago Public Schools topped them both at 16,000 devices.
Killing a learner’s natural curiosity doesn’t happen overnight. It can take as long as 12 years, and in some rare cases even that isn’t long enough.
Learning environments focused on standards, assessment, and compliance allow for the implementation of research-based strategies in pursuit of streams of data to prove that learning is happening. Curiosity is nice, but it’s a monumental challenge to measure.
Deb Gardner's insight:
An oldie but goodie article offers something to think about as we implement a new way of teaching to more rigorous standards.
In my experience teaching at the college level, I encounter some graduates of K-12 schools who appear passive, unable to ask profound questions and indifferent to seeking answers. It's no fault of teachers or students but rather the low level assessments to which they have been held accountable for the past few years. These are assessments are what we've held up as a goal.
From what I've been learning about Common Core standards and their assessments, teaching and learning in the K-12 classroom will result in graduates who are able to think more deeply, independently and most importantly ask questions that matter.
Our education lists are compiled by Deborah Hofmann, senior editor of the New York Times best-seller lists. She created this one by looking at every adult nonfiction title that was reported each week to the New York Times best-seller lists though May 31, in both print and electronic formats.
As she explained in December, Ms. Hofmann classifies a book as “education” if it tries to “teach the reader, or tell us how we learn or why we learn — or, sometimes, why we do not.” This time, however, she narrowed the criteria slightly by removing any books that might more appropriately be classified first as “parenting” rather than “education.” So, for instance, Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree,” No. 8 on that earlier list, does not appear here.
In the paper, Conley details the voluntary, state-led process that state education chiefs and governors created to develop the Common Core State Standards as well as the research that educators reviewed while writing the standards. He also analyzes several common myths that have popped up in states across the country and dispels them with facts from the standards.
"I encourage everyone who is interested in the Common Core State Standards to read through this paper and inform themselves regarding the development and validity of the standards as a framework for preparing students to lead fulfilling lives as productive citizens in an increasingly complex economy and society," said Conley.
"Through this paper, David T. Conley provides a historic and accurate account of the development of the Common Core State Standards. I know this will serve as a great reference and resource to teachers, parents, and education leaders across our states," said Chris Minnich, Executive Director of CCSSO.
OpenEd is a free service that has created a huge catalog of educational videos and games that you can browse by topic, grade level, or Common Core standard. The service launched last fall and has steadily added new features since then. The latest addition to OpenEd is an assessment creation tool.
A week ago today, the PARCC field tests came to a close for more than one million students in close to 16,000 schools across the country. The purpose of the field test was to test the test items to help ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair. The PARCC states will be reviewing how students answered the test items to make decisions about individual test items this summer and fall. The field tests also gave schools the chance to check their readiness in advance of the test administration in 2014-15.
We have already learned a lot from the administration of the field test based on calls we received, requests to the call center, and what we read on Twitter as teachers, students, technology coordinators and others shared about their experiences. We have also received feedback through surveys from approximately 8,700 students, test administrators (generally classroom teachers) and district test coordinators.