John Monfredo: In Support Of The Common Core in Worcester
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The Common Core: Then to now
Let’s look what has happened thus far. In a 2009 speech at the National Press Club, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan accused states of setting the bar too low in order to comply with the regulations of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. "We want to raise the bar dramatically in terms of higher standards. What we have had as a country, I'm convinced, is what we call a race to the bottom. We have 50 different standards, 50 different goal posts. And due to political pressure, those have been dumbed down. We want to fundamentally reverse that. We want common, career-ready internationally benchmarked standards," Secretary Duncan stated.
We then saw States across the country collaborate with teachers, researchers, and leading experts to design and develop the Common Core State Standards. Each state independently made the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards, beginning in 2010. The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards. Local teachers, principals, and superintendents lead the implementation of the Common Core. Thus, in 2010, forty-six states came together to create a new set of standards based on the best information around the country. The new standards established benchmarks for reading and math, replacing education goals that varied widely from state to state.
So what are the Common Core State Standards? They are a clear set of shared goals, high quality academic benchmarks and expectations for the knowledge and skills students need in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level to ultimately be prepared to be college and career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.
Unfortunately there appears to be a great deal of misinformation on the perceived role of the federal government in this effort. Some characterize that the federal government is over-reaching and usurping state and local control, lowering standards for our students, and dictating what the children will learn.
One group, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Director’s Gene Carter stated, "Those fallacies have spurred a growing number of state lawmakers, particularly those affiliated with the Tea Party movement to reconsider their state’s support for the standards and introduce legislation that slows or repeals the Common Core implementation.” In addition, the Republican National Committee in April passed a resolution calling the standards an “inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.”
What's the real story?
Here are the facts! The Common Core State Standards were written by building on the best and highest state standards in existence in the U.S., examining the expectations of other high performing countries around the world, and carefully studying of the research and literature available on what students need to know and be able to do to be successful in college and careers. No state in the country was asked to lower their expectations for their students in adopting the Common Core. The standards are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and are used by other top performing countries. They were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom.
Also, keep in mind that teachers were indeed part of developing the Common Core. Teachers have been a critical voice in the development of the standards. The Common Core State Standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations were instrumental in bringing together teachers to provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards
The Common Core + Worcester
The adopting of the Common Core standards did come up at the last School Committee Meeting in Worcester. Administration pointed out that our state, Massachusetts, leads the nation in student achievement and they have embraced the Common Core standards. It is interesting to note that 90% of the math and English Language Arts Common Core Standards come from the Massachusetts Frameworks. According to information released by Worcester’s Superintendent Melinda Boone the Common Core Standards are:
- Aligned with college and workforce expectations
- Clear, understanding and consistent
- Rigorous in content and the application of knowledge through higher-order skills
- Build on strengths and lessons of previous state standards
- Used in other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society
- Evidence based
In an effort to keep the public in Worcester abreast about the new standards, School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone has had a number of meetings to discuss the standards and to answer questions pertaining to the implementation. Meetings were held with City-wide Parent Council, incoming grade 9 parents and students, Worcester Education Collaborative, Parent Expo as well as other parent groups.
Those individuals or groups looking to stop the movement of the Common Core in Worcester need to keep in mind that the change in curriculum standards is nothing new for Worcester and the rest of the cities and town in Massachusetts. All school systems have been following state curriculum standards back since 1993 when the new testing standards took place. As Mayor Joseph Petty stated at the School Committee meeting, “Worcester could not change the standards even if we wanted for its state-wide.”
The bottom line
Not being an expert on the Common Core, but having attended meetings on the subject and having read information from educational journals, it appears that the Common Core standards do give schools ample room for interpretation and the ability to use a variety of strategies to achieve one’s goal. My concern would be on the testing of our students for I will be looking for additional information on the assessment piece.
I do feel that Worcester is well posed for the standards and administration does not see any negative impact with the Common Core. The district is committed to high quality teaching and learning. Massachusetts adopted the Common Core Standards as a way of bringing greater focus to grade level expectations and highlighting the critical nature of literacy in every subject area. This is an important piece with the new standards… Every teacher, despite the subject, needs to support improved student literacy by supporting every student's ability to effectively communicate, read and comprehend sophisticated text, and write effectively. Is there anything wrong with that?
The School System’s educational agenda relies upon continuous improvement. The Common Core Standards, as adopted by the MA State Dept of Education, have become the new educational benchmark in every classroom. WPS is committed to implementing those standards and will be refining the curriculum in every subject. The School Committee adopted a 5-phased curriculum revision process two years ago. It is being implemented to retool the curriculum in every subject.
Our district's Race to the Top application includes this initiative and will provide some of the resources necessary for completing this curriculum work over the next few years. As the curriculum is fine tuned to deliver the new standards, teachers will continue to need professional development to ensure all students meet the high expectations. Thus, this summer professional development took place with our grade 9 teachers as part of a series of professional development to transition grade 9 teachers and students into the rigorous graduation requirement as proposed by the Common Core.
Finally, the introduction of the Common Core Standards should not be seen as an event, but as part of the ongoing work of the district to deliver on high levels of achievement for college and career readiness for every student. Let’s give it a chance to work!
- John Monfredo: “Three Doctors” Inspire Worcester Tech Students
- John Monfredo: 10 Ways To Help Your Child Stay Smart This Summer
- John Monfredo: 100 Things Dads Can Do For Their Kids This Summer
- John Monfredo: 11 Ways to Make Summer Learning Work
- John Monfredo: 50 Things A Child Needs To Do
- John Monfredo: 8 Priorities For Families in the New School Year
- John Monfredo: A Move To Counteract Worcester’s Dropout Epidemic
- John Monfredo: AVID—Making A Difference in Worcester’s Secondary Schools
- John Monfredo: Anti-Bullying Conference Focuses on Efforts in Worcester
- John Monfredo: Arts Are Alive and Well in Worcester Public Schools
- John Monfredo: Head Start Worcester Cuts Will Hurt 200+ Children
- John Monfredo: Hurrah For Harrity!
- John Monfredo: Making Education a Priority in Our City
- John Monfredo: Making Worcester “The City That Reads”
- John Monfredo: May is the Month To Remember Our Teachers + Nurses
- John Monfredo: Reading In Our City Week
- John Monfredo: Rethinking School Suspension
- John Monfredo: Summer Learning Is More Important Than Ever
- John Monfredo: Summer Resources For Better Math Skills
- John Monfredo: WTHS Grant Invests in Future Business Leaders
- John Monfredo: Worcester Schools Expand Breakfast/Supper Programs
- John Monfredo: Worcester Schools Get Mid-Term Grades
- John Monfredo: Worcester Schools Launch Attendance Campaign
- John Monfredo: Worcester’s One City, One Library Launches
- John Monfredo: Worcester: The City That Reads Hosts 7th Annual Book Drive
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.