Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's up with the National Common Core State Standards Initiative?

Once upon many months ago, 48 states decided to race for $4 billion in stimulus funds being offered by the Federal Government. To qualify for this "Race to the Top," competitors had to commit themselves to the following areas of reform:
  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
By the time the first race rolled around, 40 states - including Utah - plus the District of Columbia lunged from the starting blocks, and 16 qualified as FINALISTS. After another "heat," which is now underway, winners will be announced in April. Utah was NOT among the finalists, but another run is scheduled for June 1. Feedback from the first race should better prepare the participants for the upcoming competition.

Note: Since this writing, two state winners were announced: Tennessee and Delaware on March 31, 2010. The Salt Lake Tribune also reported that our state just missed finalist status, coming in at number 19. Whether or not Utah resubmits a revised grant application in June has not been determined.

Whether or not Utah qualifies for these stimulus funds, however, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) is committed to ADOPT the National Common Core State Standards (NCCSS) rather than ADAPT our current state core standards to the national core standards.

For grades 6-12, the standards "define what [these] students should understand and be able to do in each grade and build toward ten College and Career Readiness Standards." The standards' framework focuses upon relevant areas of expertise for reading, writing, and speaking and listening. For example, reading standards focus upon "key ideas and details; craft and structure; integration of knowledge and ideas; range and level of text complexity.:

Writing standards include "text types and purposes; production and distribution of writing; research to build knowledge; and range of knowledge." Speaking and listening center on "comprehension and collaboration; presentation of knowledge and ideas."

Inquiry is implicitly embedded among the readiness standards rather than occupying a place of its own.

How all this plays out as far as its affect upon curriculum and assessment is yet to be announced. A USOE meeting for district English Language Arts personnel is scheduled for the end of March, and hopefully, many questions will be answered then. In the meantime, we can go forth with curriculum mapping, lesson planning, and creating common assessments based upon those Utah ELA standards that align with the NCCSS.

Oh, and by the way, Governor Herbert is scheduled to sign the bill that will eliminate UBSCT for the next two years. MY! What exciting times we live in!

Good luck to us all!


Sassy Sarah said...

I recently read an APPALLING article related to this and teacher reform on Newsweek. I wonder how the trickle effect of all of this will help or hinder teaching in the classroom. I guess only time will tell!

link2literacy said...

I would like to read that article! I think that this program will be met like those of the past: some critics will praise it, and others will pan it. I read an interesting opinion yesterday that originated in the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Basically, it reported that NO reforms have accomplished the desired results. Here is the link if anyone is interested in reading it:

link2literacy said...

Here is SALT LAKE TRIBUNE commentary on the same topic as the LA Times editorial:

This article speaks highly of the common sense behind President Obama's proposals. What do you think?

Knittnkitten said...

First let me say I love the new lay out!
Secondly, I new CA didn't stand a chance in this "race to wherever". There is a long dispute between the East and West coasts when it comes to standards and this is an Eastern administration.
Finally, I wish I could enjoy teaching a full semester in my own room with a class of my own, this is something that is really beginning to wear on me, not sure where I'm going with this but something is going to have to change.

Knittnkitten said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
link2literacy said...

Hey! Knittnkitten(aka Cat), had I not seen your avatar, I wouldn't have recognized you. Glad you like the new layout; I LOVE it, too. Much more professional, I think. iStock provided the picture/banner for free! Rarely, do they feature a freebie I can use.

I'm crossing my fingers that you'll be granted your most worthy wish! I'm still lingering in limbo, waiting for our school board to announce next year's budgets and cuts. I have a feeling I'll be wishing for my own ANYTHING!

Thanks again for dropping by, my kind follower! Renae

Knittnkitten said...

Did I spell knew wrong?

Ooops (blushes).

link2literacy said...

Hey Knittenkitten - happens to all of us! I'm sure my posts are filled with "blushers!"