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.
The Instructional Practice Guide includes coaching and lesson planning tools to help teachers and those who support teachers to make the Shifts in instructional practice required by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
As Dave Barry used to say, “alert readers will have noticed” that I have been MIA in my blog. I had a good excuse: my last week of work in Paris at ASP and 3 straight weeks of Summer Institutes. I finally have some down time, so before I head to the back porch with a G & T, let me make a few observations.
“We got so interested in Common Core because we saw such a huge number of students not being prepared to go on to college,” Melinda Gatestold Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.
Gates attributes this to different education standards from state to state. She said it was time for something “different.” That different standard was the Common Core, which has now been adopted fully by 45 states.
“We saw the difference they could make in kids lives and we also saw that it brought flexibility to the way you were teaching and that teachers could start to collaborate with one another on lesson plans,” Gates said. “We can help come up with tools that help teachers teach the Common Core. If a teacher wants to teach ‘The Scarlet Letter’ or ‘Beloved’ or ‘The Secret Life of Bees,’ we can have tools there that then help them teach and then scaffold those lessons appropriately to meet the needs of their students.”
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.
We’ve partnered with the National Education Association (NEA) on a new series aiming to show some of the “invisible work” that goes into successful teaching. In this series, called Practice, Planning & Collaboration Around the Common Core State Standards, we get to see the end-result classroom lessons and the planning that went into crafting them.
Close-reading is the product of a dynamic and deeply personal interaction between the reader and a text. It is an active process characterized by questioning, adjusting reading rate, judgement thinking, and dozens of other “strategies” readers use to make sense of what they’re reading.
This is an interaction that doesn’t require technology, but can be changed by it. It is a matter of fluency, strategy, and will. Two of these are easier to promote in students than the third (we’ll let you guess which are which).
The Education Week Spotlight on Common Core Strategies for Teachers is a collection of articles hand-picked by our editors for their insights on:
Developing best practices for common core implementationDeepening assessments to create “teacher-researchers” in the classroomUsing teacher collaboration to support the needs of special education and ESL studentsFocusing on oral communication to boost speaking and listening skills in students
You get the seven articles below in a downloadable PDF.
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!