Thursday, September 6, 2012

Part 2: The Common Core Grinding Stone

Now that you know what the Common Core Standards are, let's take a look at what they are not. Mind you, there are a lot of voices out there saying a lot of different things. I'm not trying to sell you a bag of beans, so to speak. I'm not even interested in selling you anything at this point. The only thing I want you buy into is accurate information, and we at School Improvement Network have devoted an enormous amount of time and resources to give you the skinny on the Common Core.

And so, with no further ado, I give you what the Common Core Standards are:

What the Common Core Standards Are

1) Performance standards

The Common Core Standards require students to demonstrate proficiency in grade appropriate math and ELA related skills. The skills that students gain from grade to grade build upon one another, becoming more complex over time.

For example, a third grade reading standard requires students to answer questions from a text, citing the text specifically as they answer. A related standard in grade four becomes more complex, requiring students to continue answering questions citing the text, but to draw inferences as well.

2) Important to every educator in a school and district

The Common Core outlines literacy standards in subjects other than ELA and math: specifically, history, social studies, science, and technical subjects.

Apart from literacy standards, it is important that everyone in a school—administrators, teachers, staff, and students alike—possess an understanding of the Common Core. Just as it takes a team of doctors with different specialties to treat the whole patient, the Common Core gives educators the opportunity to collaborate in the same way, gathering teachers from different subject areas to treat the whole student. This can’t happen if half of the school teaches the Common Core Standards, and the other half has little idea what the Standards even are.

3) A state-by-state initiative

Unlike No Child Left Behind, the Common Core Standards are a grassroots initiative. They were developed by teachers, administrators, professors, and legislators from all over the country, under the leadership of The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and were then adopted on a state-by-state basis by local education leaders and state legislators.

4) Making cross-state alignment possible

One of the most exciting and widely publicized features of the Common Core Standards is the way that they will make cross-state alignment possible. Under the Common Core, as students move from one state to another, educators will have a much easier time determining specific skill levels and providing new students with appropriate instruction.

The Common Core also breaks down interstate barriers for educators. Using the Standards, administrators and teachers will find it much easier to collaborate across state lines, creating truly effective national professional learning communities.

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