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The following is an excerpt from a Common Core 360 video.
We have established a strong system for helping teachers and educators get familiar with the new Common Core Standards here in Kentucky,” says Felicia Cumings Smith, associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education. Our system will also help them understand the Standards deeply so that we can translate that to teaching and learning in the classroom.
“Senate Bill l really required us to look at this whole system between assessment, instruction and new standards,” adds Karen Kidwell, project manager for Kentucky’s System of Leadership Networks. “We knew that we really needed a very systemic model that would involve all the key players. We really have to take our time because as much as you would like for things to just happen, you have to give people processing time, you have to give them struggle time so that we can learn from that and make adjustments.
“The goal of our leadership networks,” explains Smith, “is indeed to build capacity at the district level because we know they need to take ownership.”
“We decided when we started the work with our leadership networks that we really needed to find the best facilitators possible to make these conversations happen, to share strategies,” says Kidwell.
“Through a very careful screening and interviewing process, we got sixteen of probably the best and brightest mathematics and English language arts educators in the state,” Kidwell continues. “They work with clusters of about twenty to maybe twenty-five districts each and so they run the networks for the teacher leaders, but they also spend their time in between network meetings working directly in the districts. This is the critical work that will move implementation of the core academic standards across our state.”
Seth Hunter, Math Specialist for the Kentucky Department of Education explains how the subject specialists went about directing their leadership networks.
“Once a month,” says Hunter, “all of the math specialists and language arts specialists come together under the facilitation of Karen Kidwell. Karen, together with the specialists, interprets the broad goals laid out in Senate Bill I into actionable items for the network meetings. So, we’re all a part of the planning team and it’s really a very empowering process for me personally.
“We established, basically, a large goal for the work of the networks,” Karen remarks. “We see it as at least a three-year process. The first goal was to really interpret the Standards to make sure that everyone is really clear what do these standards really imply for both teaching and learning and assessment purposes.”
“Our next goal is then, if you understand those standards how you try to translate those into targets that students can see and begin to reach,” Karen continues to explain. “After that, we want to develop materials and resources teachers already have, and we want them to ask themselves, “do these truly align to and support the new Standards?” and if not, “where can we go to find resources and tools that really do support the new Standards?” With these decisions made, teachers will then develop local assessments that they can use daily based on those learning targets for kids around these Standards so that they know, on a day-to-day basis, that their kids are on track to be successful with the Standards. If they’re not, they can intervene right away in a meaningful way to keep the kids motivated and continuing to learn.”
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