With Common Core implementation imminent or underway, questions remain about the extent to which state education officials and teachers support Common Core and are working toward its implementation. Even among those who agree on the importance of Common Core, there is disagreement about how quickly tests aligned with Common Core should be implemented.
One side, represented by Chris Minnich, the Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, argues that those states which have worked the hardest at the earliest stages to implement Common Core are seeing such positive results that it would be harmful to students in other states to not follow their lead.
The other side, represented by Randi Weingarten the President of the American Federation of Teachers, argues that teachers across states have not been adequately prepared by state education officials for Common Core implementation. Therefore, argues Weingarten, in order to avoid reducing instruction to “teaching to the test,” there should be a moratorium on testing aligned with Common Core.
Let’s “listen in” on what each of these educators is saying. First, from Minnich’s recent op-ed:
It’s important to be clear that teachers get the importance of the standards, and they are on board with the effort. Their awareness and support for the standards is evident in opinion polls: more than 75 percent of teachers support the adoption of the Common Core. A survey by MetLife found that 7 out of 10 teachers are confident the Common Core will better prepare students for college and the workforce. Clearly classroom teachers think the standards are a good thing for kids.
State by state, the support is similarly strong. Teachers are enthusiastic about the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in their classroom – from New York (67 percent) to Louisiana (74 percent) to California (79 percent). Most importantly, these teachers believe the standards will have a positive impact on students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills.
The Common Core is already showing signs of student success. Kentucky became the first state to start using the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Prior to that, only 34 percent of the students who graduated from Kentucky high schools were ready to go on to college or start a career. After just a single year of using the Common Core, that number jumped up to 47 percent. A year later it hit 54 percent. Those aren’t just statistics. Those are real students – students who no longer have to pay college tuition for remedial classes when they enroll.
Leaders in Tennessee have provided intensive training for more than 40,000 educators in the Common Core. These trainings were responsive in real-time to teacher feedback by receiving a steady stream of input during the conference to be sure that adjustments could be made. Here again, we are already seeing student performance rise — on the latest nation’s report card (the National Assessment for Educational Progress, NAEP) Tennessee students made huge gains in all four areas assessed.
Hawaii, who saw the second highest growth in the nation in math and high growth in reading on the recent NAEP results has been providing a variety of supports to educators since the state adopted the Common Core in 2010. The state’s five phase professional development plan has provided in-person and virtual training opportunities for educators across the islands and in 2013, the state trained all of their principals who in turn administered job-embedded professional development to all teachers.
Here is an excerpt from Weingarten’s op-ed:
But even good ideas can be torpedoed by bad execution. In New York, officials rushed to impose tests and consequences way before students were ready. And Louisiana, New Mexico and other states are skimping on or simply bungling implementation. If officials are trying to make these standards unattainable, they’re doing a great job. No wonder students, their parents and teachers are angry, anxious and demoralized.
Last Sunday, I spent the morning with some Long Island public school teachers who made this crystal clear. Fifth-grade teachers, for example, have been told to follow a new, scripted 500-page curriculum pretty much to the letter. It’s an inexcusable information dump that, without time and training for teachers to absorb, adapt and apply the new material, won’t improve student learning. As Linda Darling-Hammond has written, the Common Core standards should be “guideposts, not straitjackets.”
There is no shame in midcourse corrections, as we have seen with the Affordable Care Act. This is a huge shift. That’s why last spring I called for a moratorium–not on the standards or even on the testing, but on the stakes that could unfairly hurt students, teachers and schools during this transition to the Common Core. Tens of thousands have supported this moratorium. But New York State Education Commissioner John King continues to ignore it.
California, however, has not. Officials there chose this year both to drop tests tied to their old standards in order to concentrate on implementing the Common Core and to phase in new high-quality assessments. But they’re holding off on consequences until students, teachers and parents are familiar with the new tests.
Amid the furor against Common Core coming from some fronts, it is helpful to recognize that important educational officials who do not agree on many issues do still agree on the importance of moving forward with Common Core, even if it would be at a decreased pace.
For more information, please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-minnich/student-success-requires-_b_4299006.html