The Common Core State Standards 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. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
The rollout of the Core is being done carefully, not the usual press release followed immediately by laudatory article in the Post, the News and the Wall Street Journal followed by support from the ed (de)reformers and the charter school claque.
Watch the webinar that attempts to explain the purposes of the Core in detail: “Bringing the Common Core to Life.”
The New York State CCSS initiative is part of a 26-state coalition called PARCC, and, will eat up most of the Race to the Top dollars both at the state and local level.
The words “College and Career Ready,” although weakly defined are at the heart of the Core (“Students will need to know how to think critically and apply their knowledge to solve non-routine problems).
For the first time in New York City there is an acknowledgement that teachers are the key deliverers of instruction, (“Teachers work in teams to review student work and align curriculum & teacher practice with the Common Core”).
However, the new teacher-principal evaluation plan is injected into the mix, “When teachers thrive, students thrive …school leaders will …. Set clear, research-based expectations for pedagogy articulated in a rubric of practice (e.g., Danielson) … Engage in short, frequent cycles of classroom observations & collaborative examination of student work, followed by timely, specific, evidence-based feedback that teachers can act on to increase the effectiveness of their instruction.” (emphasis added).
A worthy task, can principals master it? Will they involve other teachers in peer review cycles? Engage in a dialogue with teachers around practice?
The guidance goes on to instruct schools to “Create an innovative school schedule that allows teacher teams to meet regularly during the school day …. Structure Circular 6 activities to provide teacher teams with additional time for professional development … Use the SBO process …”
The culmination of the Common core rollout is the 2014-15 school year when every kid in the state will take three exams a year culminating in a final exam – these exams will replace Regents and the current ELA/Math exams – and every student and teacher will be evaluated by these exams.
We fear that the Common Core will deteriorate into another kind of zip code-based test prep mill … only time will tell.
For the first the guys and gals in the eyrie on Chambers Street acknowledge that none of their plans will move without the full and enthusiastic participation of the folks on the ground – in those 50,000 classrooms.
Around the city there are some schools and some networks immersed in examining their practice, looking at the work of the “experts,” involved in book studies, meeting regularly with colleagues and grappling with: how do you move students to higher order thinking and the mastery of incrementally more complex tasks?
In too many other schools the motto, “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves,” is the mission statement.
In a climate of impending teacher layoffs, commonplace tenure denial and extensions, drastic cuts in funding, the public denigration of teachers around the country, the kickoff of yet another “new thing” is overshadowed.
The teacher foxhole and the Tweed foxhole may not be that far apart, the solders hunker down as the shrapnel flies, they do have common goals. Unfortunately in this climate only the brave may venture forth.