Common Core – Now what???

So if you are in most states in the country, all but seven (including Texas, Washington and Virginia) that have adopted Core Curriculum standards you have by now probably heard about them, maybe even seen them, and if you are lucky you have been provided a hard copy of this monstrous new movement in the future of education.

When I went to training last summer in Common Core, I was very much overwhelmed by the entire new set of educational standards that our students would soon be held to.  I had a lot of initial concerns as a coach but at the same time was really excited.

I wondered how I would be able to convince teachers to begin to implement this new initiative.  I mean my teachers like lots of teachers are very set in their ways, so a change like this is asking a lot.  I wondered how these were going to affect state testing (New York City is driven by the state exams) and how the new standards would change the assessments.

Mostly I wondered what it actually looked like in practice and I have to imagine that most people wonder the same thing.  I mean the Literacy standards include some exemplars but in reality they are random at times and seemingly inconceivable for the grade level they are assigned too.  More often the assignments seem to be random and lack the lesson end to help you understand how the product came to be.

Lastly, the standards do not include science and social studies which while I understand are often tailored to individual states (especially in Social Studies with local history becoming embedded in the curriculum) it is hard to see how to incorporate local curriculum with the new national standards.

In New York, the expectation is that the NYCCLS (New York Common Core Learning Standards) will be in place by 2014. A tall order for many districts who have yet to begin the transition process, yet in NYC the expectation is that one full unit will be in place this coming school year – a super tall order indeed.

But many states and districts are bringing the process of figuring out the best way to implement this monumental undertaking.  In Richmond, North Carolina, 100 educators got together to figure out the best way to begin unpacking the standards much like they are doing in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Interestingly, the Indiana State Department of Education  is looking at what is no longer included in the standards like teaching cursive while some districts, like Florence, Arizona  are hiring new higher level administrators to help with the transition process.

In New York City, summer institutes are are being implemented to help teachers, administrators and support staff like myself learn how to embed and revise standards into currently successful units which will then be shared city wide as best practices and hopefully will provide me far more insight into these new but very exciting times in  education.


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