Shifts and Issues Associated With The Common Core

12/27/2012 By: Eric Sheninger

States that have formally adopted the Common Core State Standards (45 States, 3 territories)
At the 2012 ASCD Annual Conference, two facilitators shared input from educators in four states about the standards and the assistance needed to integrate them into schools and classrooms. They discussed the following key ELA Shifts:

■ Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and informational texts.
■ Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence.
■ Regular practice with complex text (and its vocabulary).
■ What can be done this year:
    • Teachers are aware of and understand the shifts required to implement.
    • Teachers can identify, evaluate, and develop textdependent (evidentiary) questions.
    • Teachers begin reviewing existing materials to develop text-dependent questions.

And the following key Mathematical Shifts:

■ Focus: focus strongly where the standards focus.
■ Coherence: think across grades, and link to major topics.
■ Rigor: require fluency, application, and deep understanding.
■ What can be done this year:
   • Teachers are aware and understand shifts.
   • Teachers identify major work for grade.
   • Teachers begin reviewing existing materials to prepare for focus.

Case studies revealed approximately 50 percent of educators in Arkansas feel that they do not have the resources and tools necessary to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards. Their number one concern is the technological capacity to teach and assess students. Compounding this issue is the fact that there is no money to purchase what is needed to meet the expectations that will come along with these assessments. Rural states like Arkansas don’t have the bandwidth to implement and support the assessments that are required. A key question that came out of this analysis was: how do we know what we buy today will be compatible in 2014-2015?

In North Carolina, 45 percent of educators feel that they do not have the resources and tools necessary to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards. They are primarily concerned about the summative assessments linked to the standards. Utah educators were most concerned about the availability of professional development offerings.

Successful transition to the Common Core hinges on the amount of support that schools will receive from states (if any) and quality professional development opportunities. One trend that bothers me and many others is the fact that many stakeholder groups that do not have a vested interest in student achievement are raking in the cash while schools struggle to adapt to these changes. As long as this issue and others discussed above persist, resentment for this initiative will continue to grow.

Eric is the principal at New Milford High School located in Bergen County, NJ.

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