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  • wmgraham1

    I don't get the people who say they are against CC because "We need to individualize education to meet the needs of the individual student." That is exactly what CC is all about. Those that do not get this appear to have little imagination. CC is much more than year-end standardized testing. Standards are a prerequisite to being able to implement individualized, mastery-based education where each student learns at their own pace. CC provides the means to be able to assess each student's mastery at the individual learning unit (daily?) level in oder to see if they are ready to move on to the next learning unit.

    Teachers need to be seen leading the charge to improve education to where 100% of students achieve 100% mastery of all core fundamentals (and teacher who are already succeeding with 100% of their students now need to support those who have not yet achieved that - mostly because the current deck is stacked against them due to poverty and other inequities). By saying the answer to poor education results is to not measure contributes to the public perception that teachers are mostly self-serving whiners and excuse makers and damages the entire profession.

  • SWBaker

    First, I was never surveyed regarding my feelings regarding the Common Core. I don't believe there is "overwhelming" teacher support for it as well. Perhaps you could take the time to read and respond to teacher/blogger Mercedes Schneider's article regarding the NEA survey: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/nea-says-its-members-strongly-support-common-core/.

    Secondly, I'm wondering if the 6.3 million dollars the NEA accepted from Bill Gates back in July has anything to do with your support of the CCSS. http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/a-brief-audit-of-bill-gates-common-core-spending/.

    My union is supposed to serve its members, not the small group of corporate plutocrats who have developed and implemented the CCSS. The members of the NEA serve, first and foremost, the parents and students of their school districts. Across the country, parents are becoming aware of the impact the CCSS is having on their schools, and they are rebelling. Ten thousand parents on Long Island, NY opted their children out of state standardized testing. This is only the beginning. By accepting Gates' money and shilling the CCSS on his behalf, the leadership of the NEA has placed the union on the losing side of this argument, to the detriment of its members.

    I believe in the necessity of the union, especially at a time when so much wealth and influence been aligned in an attempt to bash teachers and destroy public schools. However, when the union fails to listen to its members and allies itself with the selfsame corporate reformists who would replace our locally controlled public schools with for-profits, it is time to part ways.

    My dues this year will go to our districts library fund or needy-children fund. I doubt you'll miss it since you're now being funded by Mr. Gates.

    • wmgraham1

      I am shocked by teachers who think being perceived by the general public as being against anything likely to improve education on a large scale is good for the union and its members. On the one hand we lament that not enough community members are willing to get involved and try to help and then you complain when they do when it is something more than giving money. Dennis simply said we need to get away from one-size-fits-all education and said that Common Core contributed to being able to do that. I agree and was looking for common standards that we could all aim for long before I ever heard of Common Core. Please get rid of whatever all prejudices you have against helping kids get a better education and take another look at Common Core from an objective perspective. Just disregard the aspect of the testing as a means to evaluate teachers and focus on having standards that enable us to move from the "Sage on the stage to the guide at the side" which I do not know anyone who does not think that is where we need to be going. This is where we are teaching students to be independent learners. However, in order to have students be independent learners we have to first tell them what the goal is and that requires standards (or are you saying that we should have thousands of standards for standard arithmetic operations).

  • naturewoman

    I am appalled that NEA and my home affiliate OEA have abandoned their members and sold out to ed reformers on the CC standards! Thousands of teachers DO NOT agree with NEA's view on CC and see it for what it really is. CC is a money maker for Bill Gates, Pearson and obviously NEA! Many of the CC standards are not developmentally appropriate in many grade levels and this would have been pointed out if teachers had been included in the writing of the standards. Foe NEA to now put out propaganda like this in order to save face is simply nauseating to so many members. Maybe NEA had better think about the huge loss of membership that will result form them not listening to the cries of their members.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      NEA believes that CCSS has the potential to have an enormous impact on student learning, but in order to fulfill the standards’ worthy goals, teachers must be provided with the time, tools and resources to help make implementation a success. Our members support the Common Core Standards because they are the right thing to do for our students. Yet we all need to work together –parents, education support professionals, teachers, administrators, communities and elected officials – to make sure we get this right.

      • SWBaker

        Did the four million dollars the NEA received from Bill Gates have any influence on your opinion of the CCSS?

  • rubinsteindds

    Publishers and testing companies are using CCSS to NARROW their curriculum and content, because the less they offer, the more profit they make (at taxpayers expense, of course)
    This is why the wishy washy argument of "The Common Core is great, but NOT the testing", is hollow and vapid. The Common Core doesn't exist in the absence of punitive testing. Each one is the other's raison d'etre

  • Michelle Sarabia

    While I support the idea of a common set of standards nationwide, I feel the CCSS as they are need to be adjusted, especially in the lower grades, to fit student developmental levels. Also, although publishers and testing companies are using CCSS to NARROW their curriculum and content, common standards shouldn't limit learning... teachers allowed to use materials, lessons, etc. of their own choice can still integrate common standards without being restricted in overall content.

    Additionally, I am firmly against standardized testing... which is truly the "one size fits all" Procrustean bed. I teach special education. I have high expectations for my students. Standardized testing doesn't measure their growth, because a student who, in 4th grade, starts my program just learning to read, and by March is reading at an early 1st grade, is going to get the same score regardless, because he or she is still guessing since the reading is still so far above his/her level. Standardized testing also doesn't give any data to drive instruction. It is too vague, to minimal, and often reported at the start of the next school year when the child's knowledge levels are no longer at the same place they were during the test.

    Yes, as a teacher, I AM accountable... to my students and their parents, not to some weird set of statistics that have nothing to do with my actual teaching ability or my students' needs.

  • Michelle Sarabia

    I disagree that the CCSS as they stand are good. They need adjustment for student developmental levels; also, they need to be used as a foundation, not an end product. They should not limit... however, if standardized testing is applied, then they will be an end product rather than a starting point. The idea of common standards across the nation has merit, but not the way they are being used for corporate profiteering. It reminds me of Reading First... a wonderful, basic framework that got turned into a buzz word and a profit-focused limiter on what resources teachers could use in their classroom... and because of that it died. CCSS is on the same pathway.

    The real problem is the standardized testing industry. I firmly am against standardized testing. It shows nothing except whether or not a child can test well. Also, it does NOT show growth in the lowest and highest students because it is too limited. Not to mention that often cut-scores are set after testing is complete... a child who grew well through the year can have their proficiency removed from them if other kids grew well too.

    So, as a special ed teacher who teaches both resource and enrichment, I'm hosed. The statistics generated from a 4th grader with severe learning disabilities, who just cracked the reading code and has moved from non-reading to 1st grade skills will not show progress when handed a test written at end-of-4th-grade levels... it doesn't pick up on whether a child that low has moved. Same with the gifted... if you max out a rubric one year, and the next year, there's no where to grow.

    Take the millions of dollars spent on standardized testing by districts, and put that money back in the classroom - provide small-group staffing, give teachers self-directed curriculum and materials purchase options, create community centers with food banks, parenting support groups, and after-school programs. Revise the CCSS to reflect real childhood development, and then reward students and their parents for growth through levels regardless of the child's age or ability compared to their peers.

    And rate me on growth through levels, not whether the child is the same as their peers. Rate me on whether a child who struggles to link a word to an image went from being unable to understand a simple sentence, to reading a very simple story, and writing a sentence about it, or orally discussing it, not whether they can read Mark Twain. Rate me on whether that child gains admission to college after high school (oh, wait, does that mean a decade before deciding if I'm doing my job? sheesh, never mind... but I have my first students doing that now, including those who when they were in 5th grade with me, were reading at 1st grade level. I just heard from one parent of a child in that situation that she's going for her degree in sports medicine).

    I don't care about the new report card system being implemented by my state to rate me. I'll probably earn a D or F because 50% of my score is standardized tests. I have had much better feedback to keep me going... students who come see me in high school or on their way to college, to hug and thank me for what I did when they were little. Parents who request me for their child, who also come back when their child is older to thank me. And current students who show me over and over those "aha" moments, those victories over disability, ennui, and/or home life stressors. In a couple of decades, what I am doing right now won't be measured by moldy test score documents in a vault somewhere, but by what my students remember.

    • Gary Bender

      I, too, am against standardized testing. However, I believe standardized assessment can occur without standardized testing.

  • rubinsteindds

    If the Common Core standards are such an improvement, why did the only mathematician on the validation committee (Dr. Milgram) refuse to sign off on them? He said it was because the standards are so weak and so vague, they are a step backwards from what many states are already doing.
    Really? Pushing Algebra I back until 9th grade? If you want to get kids ready for community college (which is great for some) then this is fine. If they want to go to M.I.T. or Stanford, they better hope for something better than the Common Core.
    But hey, one size fits all, right?

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      The Common Core Standards have the potential to offer every student the same high academic standards that will help them all graduate with the required level of knowledge and skills for college and career. However, proper implementation and the creation of fair, appropriate assessments is critical to its success.

  • Relaxed Stress

    What a naive article. The CCSS and the testing that goes with them (PARCC or SBACC) are all part of one package. They will ramp up present "one size fits all" teaching and testing to new, unimagined levels. Do your own research and don't believe everything you've been told by the CCSS training programs. As the CCSS roll out, more and more teachers are seeing the underlying problems and are speaking out.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      NEA was fully engaged in the development of CCSS, so we are well versed in the Common Core, with no need to rely on what we've "been told."

      As far as teachers "speaking out," please stay tuned, as we will release the results of a member-wide poll on CCSS this Thursday, September 12. Thank you.

  • Stephen Braulick

    You are either willfully naive or a shill; not sure which. (Where is the "It's NOT GOOD button?)

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      I am neither. But I do thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on CCSS.

  • Brian Preston

    We've never had on size fits all learning--the standards have varied by state and the difficulty of state tests have varied substantially for years. So I am mystified by this article's title--perhaps an editor for the site wrote it. I would be immensely disappointed to think that Dennis is the title's author.

    CCSS, in fact, reduces the past disparities among individual state standards (the Cy Young states like MA vs. the minor leagues like TX) by suggesting higher standards in clear terms. This could lead to greater one-size-fits-all learning. However, without uniform tests, the batting averages of different states will still be comparing apples to oranges since the tests serve to operationalize the standards. We have two testing consortia which began with decent support from most of the states, but these consortia are starting to break apart because of the associated costs of the testing, and because of growing opposition to testing and/or to 'national standards' which some see as a violation of constitutional obligations of states to control education.

    And lately we have begun to see two other testing companies suggest they will develop, or already have, tests that can be used to measure CCSS achievement in lieu of the two national testing consortia. Both ACT and College Board (SAT) are developing alternates to the testing consortia which are being considered by several states for use instead of the consortia tests. If this actually happens, we'll be slipping back toward the chaos the CCSS were intended to replace. With four testing companies, we'll have states reporting result on 4 tests instead of two, doubling the challenges of determining the batting averages of students across the nation. And if we get four tests, it won't be long before Pearson and McGraw Hill, or others, write their own tests and underprice the others, thus destroying the idea of a means to determine the quality of school across the nation.

    Some will argue the tests can be equated statistically, which is likely correct, but which would make rational discussions of comparisons a black box process which parents and politicians will be quick to interpret for their own politicized motives. Statisticians will meet their tenure publication requirements debating the statistical adjustments for the testing comparisons, and their work will be ignored as politicians focus on firing teachers to improve schools.

  • tizlock

    As a parent and community/education advocate - I also support the Common Core Standards. And like many others, it's the testing that concerns me, because it's the high stakes testing that damages children, that labels schools and hinders their progress - at least as we currently use the data that results - less as a tool for internal improvement, more as a bludgeon to spur flight and instability in communities that can least endure it.

  • Joanne Hughes

    Yes, I'm a supporter of the common core. I'm a HS Librarian, Visual Tools teacher trainer and National Board Candidate. I'm invested in the success of this project with my learning community and supporting them with library materials and resources.

  • Holly Boardman

    As an educator, I embrace the Common Core Standards as an opportunity to personalize the education of our students. However, I am wary of the high-stakes nature of the testing that most "reformers" are advocating. Assessment should be for the benefit of the teacher and the student to see where the current growing edge of the student is. To tie testing results to school grades, teacher evaluations, and promotion of students from one grade to another is counter-productive.

  • Michael Cash

    "I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted. The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned." Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State.

  • EricWeinstein

    Lot of people don't get the message I see in this - that one size standardized testing is going away.

    That's a big deal.

    So there's lots of mis-information about exactly what happen now. You should ask: Will it be a better education? I think this is one of the most important improvements in education!

  • wmgraham1

    Hi Unionsquaremom, I agree with you 100% that poverty and family breakdown are the overwhelming causes of education problems. However blaming the teachers' union leader for this is misdirected. Making educational success dependent on societal of parental changes is equivalent to giving up. I focus on what I can do. I am working to help disadvantaged children in very large numbers to 100% master reading, writing and basic arithmetic by the 4th grade so that they will have the foundation and experience of success to at least have a chance of success in later grades. Common Core (forget the testing part) helps us in developing scalable solutions to enable teachers to implement individualized, mastery-based learning where each student works at their own pace using the methods that best match their learning style and where children who do not have home environments conducive to homework or even regular attendance can still learn effectively. If you really care about education success of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, don't just criticize what others are not doing, but rather get involved in making reasonable solutions a reality. We would love to have your ideas and/or help.

    • Liz Dwyer

      Hey Zflower--If you'd like, you can go on and and share this link with the entire GOOD community outside the post. Just click the yellow post button on the upper right hand side, choose something to learn, paste in the URL, and then write a title and a brief description on what it's about. That way in case folks don't happen to read this post or see your comment, they can still engage with what you'd like to share.

  • Ryan Gossen

    So how does the Common Core end one-size-fits-all learning? This article should be re-named My Political Struggle To Implement A National Testing Program.

    • Holly Boardman

      Instead of grouping students by age-level or grade as they learn, CCS would allow students to be grouped according to what SKILLS they need to master. Pull-out groups of kids who have the same learning need (based on sophisticated learning analytics) can be formed. This can be done very well in some subject areas right now (especially math) using online technology.

      One innovative high school in New Hampshire is allowing students to tailor their learning to their own interests by allowing them access to open-source standards based curriculum. This allows kids to delve deeply into an interest as they acquire new skills. Here is a link to the article

      http://gettingsmart.com/2013/09/using-opencourseware-at-new-milford-hs-to-create-deeper-learning/

      A change in pedagogy is necessary for personalized learning--no more "sage on the stage" to a group of same-aged kids. Technology, new and common standards, and a new pedagogy is making it happen. The transition is not easy, but it is happening.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      I'm satisfied with the headline chosen. But thanks for your input. ;-)

  • Christina Vickers

    Teachers are incredibly frustrated by the idea that the Common Core is just another set of new jargon. What teachers have been teaching has not changed because of the Common Core. Much more emphasis has to be placed on the best practices of teaching and on how to reach and teach today's generation. Follow me on twitter @ttrspks.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      The standards movement is not new to teaching. Despite our best efforts, the achievement gap still exists. We must do better – a place to start is by setting clearer goals that apply to all students. The focus of the Common Core State Standards is to raise the rigor of existing standards by focusing on the areas that students need most.

      Educators know what and how to teach, the CCSS adds another layer – a layer that helps define both content and cross disciplinary expectations that are consistent across grade levels. The structure of the standards, with standards that transcend grade level expectations, provides a connection for all teachers to share common practices that help students apply higher order thinking skills while maintaining consistency in the rigor that is expected to prepare this generation of students for college and workplace readiness.

      As educators, we advocate for time and resources to make this meaningful change in our educational practices. Reaching and teaching today’s generation is a shared responsibility of all educators, parents, and community partners.

  • kelseypine

    Dennis, what a great post. Thanks for offering a clear explanation to such a complex issue. I agree that this is just the starting point and that we have a long way to go, but Common Core is an obvious and necessary first step.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Thank you for your comment. Appreciate your insight. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • wmgraham1

    Good post! Dennis does not say anything is the final answer. He is just pointing out opportunities that can be built upon. For years we only hear that all the problems would be solved if only we had better teachers. This is totally unfair as most problems would go away if we only had more better parents living in better environments. Having said that, there are tools and methods coming available that will mitigate many of the social problems (e.g. individualized, mastery-based learning where every student learns at their own pace with the methods that best fit each student's learning style). These will offset many of the disadvantages of those in environments where homework and even regular attendance is difficult. Many of these will include changes to the way many teachers teach. It is very important that the teacher's organization be a driving force in bringing about good solutions and not simply leave teachers to have eventual solutions forced upon them with little or no input. I congratulate Dennis for keeping the teacher community involved.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Thank you for comments. Most of all, we must demand that educators receive the training, support and resources they need to provide every public school student with the high-quality education they deserve. This is critical, and NEA must lead in this capacity.

  • unionsqaremom

    WOW....This is possibly the worst thing I've read in a LONG while. And that comes from a mom with a sixth grader in NYC's public school system. My son did extremely well on the new Common Core testing, but many of his best friends -- those NOT lucky enough to be enrolled in the Giften & Talented program (e.g., mostly black and Latino kids) in his same school did poorly. The two tiered system is alive and well and will continue to diverge, thanks in large part to enconomic gulf.

    To the author: If you truly want to help the kids who floundered on this recent round of testing, try addressing the root causes of why they are lagging: Homelessness (22,000 kids are sleeping tonight in NYC shelters); poor nutrition (use of food banks continues to set new record highs each month); lack of access to pre-K education and support. It's pretty hard to concentrate on reading, writing and arithmatic when you are hungry and have been bounced from shelter to shelter. Why do you think most of the school Mayor Bloomberg has slated for closure have the highest rate of enrollment of homeless children and those eligible for food stamps?

    To the editors of "GOOD" -- this reactionary-type of nonsense is EXACTLY what I DON'T need to find on your usually great website. TRULY DISAPPOINTING. Why not have Diane Ravitch write something grounded in reseach?

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      We agree that there are many social and economic issues that prevent students from reaching their full potential, many of which are outside the purview of educators and school staff. There are many educators that go beyond the call of duty in the classroom to provide meals, supplies, and clothing to students on a regular basis.

      NEA has long advocated for early childhood programs, healthy school lunches, more outreach and easier access to affordable housing, nutrition assistance and healthcare for school age children and their families. Our criteria for Great Public Schools provide a framework for state policy makers to work with educators to provide a holistic approach to addressing the troubling issues you describe.

      It is difficult for children to learn when their basic needs are not being met, but as educators we have a responsibility to teach every child regardless of their circumstances.

    • Liz Dwyer

      I appreciate the points you've raised about poverty. You're right, solely changing standards doesn't change the fact at all that nearly a quarter of American kids are living in poverty and we're fooling ourselves if we think that we don't have to address it.

      Indeed, a couple years ago I wrote a little something about how a Harvard-based working group had come to the conclusion that the next big shift in education reform was to actually address poverty (http://www.good.is/posts/the-coming-paradigm-shift-in-education-reform). The working group's words still ring true that this shift would happen:

      "not because of sudden prosperity and deep public-sector pockets, nor because of a broad shift in public sentiment that activates new moral commitments to the ideal of educating other people’s children, but as an outgrowth of the same hard-nosed, pragmatic, evidence-based orientation that for the moment is supporting the unlikely claim that schools can do it alone."

      Here in the U.S. I only taught in low income communities so I see the need for this SO much. And thanks to the grassroots work of so many tireless educators and activists, like Diane--and like so many of the folks who are part of the GOOD community--we're starting to see more dialogue on poverty and major push back against the idea that we can just stick kids in front of a laptop and they'll magically be on the path to college. But we need more action on this. WAY more.

      I'm a big fan of Diane. I've interviewed her in the past and I read her blog daily. I would love it if she'd join the conversation happening here. BTW, even if she doesn't have time to contribute here--I know she has so much going on--you (and every other member of GOOD) are welcome to post links to things she's writing about on her blog or elsewhere.

      I also am truly interested in what NEA is doing and am glad that Dennis is here in the community to share. We haven't had much dialogue about the Common Core here at GOOD and so having this post from him gives us all a chance to exchange ideas, challenge each other, and learn from each other.

      • Dennis Van Roekel

        Thank you Liz. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this robust, honest dialogue with the GOOD community on the CCSS. There is just too much at stake to do anything different.

    • Dani O'Brien

      Amen unionsquaremom! If education reformers were truly interested in helping kids they would focus on poverty and not tests.

  • Dani O'Brien

    This article is completely off base. The Common Core were voluntary in name only. In order for states to receive the much needed Race to the Top funding (Obama's so called "answer" to NCLB) states had to sign on. It is disingenuous to claim that these standards were developed with the expertise of . The standards were developed with little public input by Achieve and the National Governors Association, who are both funded by the Gates Foundation. There was very little public involvement and no field testing was conducted to insure these were effective standards and to say otherwise is to obfuscate the private interests behind these standards and the testing companies that will turn a large profit assessing them. For another view I would suggest the following two posts from Diane Ravitch's blog
    http://dianeravitch.net/category/common-core/
    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/26/why-i-cannot-support-the-common-core-standards/

    Finally, I think it is incredibly condescending to assume teachers (such as myself) are weary because of the unknown. We are weary because of the known! We have seen the racism, classism, and ablism these standards and assessments perpetuate. We have seen the way these reforms are used to deprofessionalize the field of teaching and turn teaching into a technocratic task that can be done through scripted curriculum and one size fits all approaches. The NEA and the AFT do not represent many of the teachers in their union. Many of us pro-union teachers do not stand with the leadership and their capitulation to the Common Core and Race to the Top.

    • Relaxed Stress

      The CCSS and the high stakes testing, which cannot be separated, will only serve to INCREASE the achievement gap. The CCSS are part of setting up public education for increasing and deliberate failure, which will result in the closing of more and more public, neighborhood schools. That's the privatization agenda sold to the feds by corporate reformers looking to make huge private profits.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Candidly, I do not subscribe to any policy in education that promotes a one-size-fits-all solution. We know that doesn’t work and won’t ensure a great public school for every student. The purview and judgment of an educator is significant and coupled with experience is powerful. The implementation of the CCSS—done right—will call upon educators’ expertise, judgment, and creativity in how to teach their students. It will put the job of educating students where it belongs…back in educators’ hands.

      However, we know that students, families, and educators must have sufficient time to prepare for the transition, and schools and state and districts must provide implementation tools, resources, and time needed to get it right.

      The standards are, and remain, a state-led, voluntary initiative. They were designed, in consultation with accomplished educators, to end the need for post-secondary remediation and provide a clear roadmap for what students need to be successful in college and in their careers. The process of standards setting was transparent and relied on educators and state leaders. The evidence base from which they were developed included scholarly research; surveys from college and workforce training programs; post-secondary assessment data; and comparisons from high performing states and nations.

      We strongly believe in preserving the voice of educators and ensuring their seat at any table where decisions are made regarding public education. That is why we made sure NEA members were part of the process of developing the standards. Throughout development of the standards, NEA collaborated with organizations like the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, AFT, the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and our partnerships are growing as implementation of the standards continues.

      We also understand that our members have specific needs, which is why I have appointed a members-led Common Core Work Group that is dedicated to representing educators, developing new tools, and informing strategies to help ease all of our transitions to the standards.

  • Ian Ngo

    If we "shouldn't put too much stock in an instrument as crude as a 'one size fits all' standardized test," then why should we put stock in a 'one size fits all' set of achievement standards?

    Please share an example or two of how the CC "broadens authentic teaching and learning." In which concrete instances has it done so in the places where it's been implemented?

    The Common Core appears to be valuable because it will make it easier to analyze within a national scope the relationships among instructional methods and materials and learning outcomes (as measured via assessment instruments.) That is GOOD and worth doing.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      The standards provide a focus and are designed to make sure all students have access to an education that prepares them not only to graduate, but to graduate prepared for college, careers, and citizenship. But to be clear, the standards do not dictate how teachers should teach, they do provide clear goals. They leave flexibility for educators’ expertise and creativity and the room to apply new understandings of teaching and learning as they are discovered.

      I would encourage you to view the video footage posted at www.nea.org/commoncore to hear members’ thoughts on the implementation of the CCSS.

  • jenbelanger12

    Here is the challenge I am having with the CCSS: the standardized tests that accompany it. While the Common Core on its own does focus on important critical thinking skills, which can allow for more student-centered teaching and learning, these multiple choice, fill-in-the-correct-bubble tests are not. In states that have adopted these tests, and use them as measures of teacher achievement, there will be an increased focus on "teaching to the test," which means standardization for our students' education.

    Furthermore, while the adoption of the Common Core was voluntary, the Race to the Top funds were predicated on the adoption of the Core and the installation of the testing regime to accompany them. At the time, in the depths of the recession, cash-strapped states had little choice but to take them. In this private-sector frenzy over education, and the big money to be made by the creation and adoption of these tests, I do not see this standardization changing, but instead I see it intensifying.

    Common Core COULD be a great thing. But it hasn't worked out that way. Perhaps if real educators, those in the trenches right now, teaching America's children and teenagers, were given a bit more respect about their profession, Common Core and its tests could be successful in making education better for all. But the Obama administration has been largely deaf to that constituency, and I am not hopeful about any future 2016 contender either.

    It's a shame.

  • Linda Brown

    Won't we still just wind up with a state test for the new standards, though? Won't teaching to the test just continue, but to a new test? Also, these standards are only for English and Math. How will teachers of other subjects be held to standards when they do not have any?

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Students’ mastery of these standards cannot be demonstrated fully or appropriately through the use of the same old multiple choice items on a poorly designed standardized test. These standards call for next generation authentic assessment systems—not a single test—that provide students with multiple ways to show what they know. These standards encompass not just English and math, but also literacy across a variety of content areas. How teachers and other educators are held accountable in any school district should be discussed, deliberated, and negotiated at the local level between educators and their local unions with their district counterparts.

  • Régis ELO

    thank you for this post that i relay and totally agree with ...
    Just have a wish this data revolution concerning new opportunities to change global educational system could underbalanced inequity between different countries, culture or religion , but also preserved their traditional modes and specificities...
    big brother is helping you (?? go forward TO SEE and be continued....)

  • Ben Goldhirsh

    Dennis, firstly, thanks for sharing this with all of us in the GOOD community. And a question, along with outlining common areas of focus (i.e. lines and angles for 4th graders) will there be a common assessment method so that you don't run into different states presenting differing perspectives on proficiency?

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Ben, thanks for your kind comment. Most states are part of one of two assessment consortia commonly referred to as – PARCC www.parcconline.org/about-parcc or Smarter Balance http://www.smarterbalanced.org/about/.

      The assessments themselves may not be identical, yet the goals of both assessments (and those designed separately by states) must be to ensure that they are of high-quality, assess what is being taught, and provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction to help *all* students succeed.

      NEA is working with the assessment consortia, its affiliates, and members to ensure that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, including the design and use of student learning assessments, is done well.

      • Ben Goldhirsh

        awesome. thanks for that feedback. I think the hope from a taxpayer's perspective is that the assesments are executed to be as valuable as possible - to provide insights for teachers on tactics and specific student needs, to students to provide feedback on strengths and weaknesses, to society to understand trends and investment needs.

  • Liz Dwyer

    So appreciate this. I've also noticed that parents in my school communities generally have no idea what the Common Core will mean for their child's learning. What has been communicated so far by teachers and admins is that the new assessments are WAY more difficult and so we should expect that students will bomb these tests. That causes plenty of worries--even if it means that students are learning more and being challenged more. I also love that you're on a mission to discover what student centered changes are working, and that you're bringing teachers, students, and the communities together in the process--quite a refreshing approach.

    • Dennis Van Roekel

      Thank you Liz. We have to do better in communicating with parents and the public on the Common Core. Educators know about CCSS, but most members of the general public do not. People are confused about standards, curriculum and assessments. We need to help NEA members explain the facts.

      • Ian Ngo

        How can I better explain to parents that setting the bar higher (or more consistently) will help their kids for whom the bar is already set much higher than they can jump?

        By analogy, if, as a track coach, I were to tell my jumpers that this season they were all expected to high jump 11 feet, would it have a positive effect on their performance? How might I explain to their parents that setting higher standards does in fact positively impact their kid's performance?

        What examples from our collective past educational experience can I cite to make my case?

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      I am excited to see how Common Core changes learning in classrooms- and teaching. I think setting goals outside of standardized tests will help curb retention rates. A lot of students enter college not necessarily having the skills necessary to succeed, and this could help end that.

      • Dennis Van Roekel

        Thank you Alessandra. The fact is, students will need certain knowledge and skills to succeed in the global economy – they will be competing with students around the world.

        • Ian Ngo

          How will the Common Core help the typical (non-elite) U.S. student compete for low-paid, unskilled manufacturing and resource extraction jobs?