Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Common ground leads to . . . .

In a post by John Thompson at This Week In Education he shares a piece by John Merrow called the Common Core Brouhaha.  Merrow identifies a set of circumstances involving unlikely political allies that could lead to the end of Common Core State Standards and national tests.

. . .The glib analysis, which is is actually kind of clever, goes something like this: the right hates the CCSS because they are ‘common,’ and thus denigrate individualism and limit choice, while the left detests them because they are ‘core.’ (Or maybe it’s the other way around.)

When left and right find common ground, something big is happening. In fact, we may have a perfect storm brewing, where forces upset about a variety of controversial issues create enough noise, rancor and controversy to reshape public education. These groups may not be against the same things—and they definitely are not for the same things, but the weight of their outrage may be enough to topple the Common Core State Standards and the accompanying national testing.
It is an interesting piece and not long if you have a few minutes.  I want to share one additional paragraph from the article that captures one of our core beliefs. Though we identify it as such, we are finding that it is easy at times to identify words on paper that capture it, but more difficult to consistently align with our behavior.  This was reinforced in a recent bargaining session with teachers that resulted in some creative tension, self reflection, and commitment to change practice.  On a larger scale all those that come to the table, including teachers and technocrats, must come capable of suspending long held assumptions and willing to be influenced.

If we end up starting the higher standards process all over again, let’s agree that teachers must be well-represented at the table. Education is, at the end of the day, about relationships. It’s not a commodity to be acquired, and children are not objects to be weighed and measured. Teachers have to be trusted, because the enterprise cannot succeed without them, no matter what technocrats may believe or wish.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Falling short or drawing the line . . .

Today, the Joint Select Committee sent their required response to the Supreme Court's directive for a detailed plan on how the legislature will fully fund their definition of basic education by 2018.  As expected it fell short of a detailed plan since none emerged in the recent short session.  I'll share the first two responses I saw that capture the deep divide on this issue and the state of Education in our state.

The first is from Liv Finne in a post at the Washington Policy Center.  In it, she echoes what we have heard from many legislators.

In the report lawmakers tell the Court that it is the Legislature’s duty to define the program of basic education and to fund it:

“With the bounds of the constitution, the Legislature retains authority for selecting the means for Article IX implementation. And within the bounds of the constitution, the Legislature may change these means.”

The Select Committee also noted:
“...this case has not surprisingly sparked significant debate over the separation of powers and the role of the judiciary in budgeting policy.”

She makes her objections to the court's position clear and believes that the McCleary decision has little chance of improving public education in our state.

With each passing year it seems increasingly clear the McCleary process is not working. The McCleary lawsuit started in 2007. Five years later, on January 5th, 2012, the state Supreme Court issued its decision. Now, two years further on, the justices continue to wrestle with the long and tortuous process they created when they announced they would “retain jurisdiction” over the case and ordered lawmakers to submit regular reports.

The second response is from Superintendent Dorn in an OSPI release.  In it he takes the opposite view of Liv Finne and challenges the legislators to provide and fund the plan to meet their definition and timeline for basic education implementation.

The 58-page document released today says very little, and is far from complete. It isn’t even a plan. It reads like a small history lesson. It includes a list of bills that “are meaningful because they show significant work is occurring.”

The problem is that “none of these bills passed the Legislature.”

The document concludes with the plea that the Court “recognize that 2015 is the next and most critical year for the Legislature to reach the grand agreement needed to meet the state's Article IX duty by the statutorily scheduled full implementation date of 2018.”

In other words, Wait until tomorrow.

But I have to ask: Will tomorrow ever come?

The Legislature isn’t going to take its responsibility seriously unless the Court forces it to do so.

I believe that these responses demonstrate the deep divide that describes our current reality and that results in the lack of collaboration and capacity to reach agreement on how to close the gap.  One views the response as falling far short while the other sees it as appropriate and necessary to draw the line on court intervention into the policy arena.  If you are inclined, you can read the report here.  If not, you can wait like me to see how the court will respond.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Losing the capacity to compare . . .

As we read about the growing number of states considering their commitment to the Common Core State Standards we need to remember that the push back started with states reconsidering their alignment with one of the two national testing consortia supported by $360 million in federal money. Recently, in a contested action the State Superintendent of Education in South Carolina joined others from one of the two Common Core testing consortia in the recent decision to drop the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  That leaves 22 still with Smarter Balanced, 16 with PARCC, and 1 with both groups. What will the other 13 be doing for state assessments since all states, as a condition of the waiver process, are required to assess using these or state developed college and career ready standards? They will work with other testing organizations or develop their own.

This leaves us with an interesting situation since having all states using the same set of standards and administering similar assessments was a major selling point for Common Core implementation.  With the recent pull out by South Carolina and others from PARCC such as Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Alabama the capacity to rate states on a one time test is diminishing.  How many more states will withdraw before mandatory implementation in 2015 is anyone's guess.  Though the Smarter Balanced pilot seems to be going well in our state there have been problems in others that may influence the outcome.

Like many systems across the country, we have expended considerable resources on common core to align curriculum, assessment, and instructional practice and still have far to go.  I do not believe that moving away from these standards and assessments in the short term is best for our students and teachers as we have experienced far too many standard changes over the years.  We need stability and opportunity to refine our practice not more shifting of priorities in the political winds.  Below, is a map from Education Week with the current state testing alignment.
Common Standards and Assessment Consortia Membership

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Following up on our FIRST . . .

My last post on Washington State being the first state to lose a NCLB waiver resulted in a few comments that included one from Scott where he shared a statement from State representative Reykdahl. Later, Amy Adams shared a post from Diane Ravitch's blog with additional quotes from Rep. Reykdahl that I will share below.  Though many would dispute the belief that the recent legislative decision was collaborative I believe that all would share that the process used in developing TPEP was a collaborative effort and that TPEP implementation is having a positive impact on teacher growth in our system.

I like what Scott shared.

“My message to President Obama and Secretary Duncan is that Washington State is committed to education reform that is collaborative, bipartisan, and focused on student success and teacher growth. Our legislative decision to reject the federal government’s demands was done with substantial deliberation and a deep respect for state and local control.

And, from the Ravitch post this part of his statement that captures my concern with the one size fits all strategy used by the federal department to force change.

“The bipartisan rejection of this federal government demand during the 2014 legislative session is a strong and unifying message that our state fully embraces our constitutional 10th Amendment guarantee to develop, fund, and administer our state’s education system as the citizens of the state of Washington and their elected representatives determine, not as federal officials deem it appropriate.

Finally, the following statement that captures for me the absurdity of holding our state, young people, and schools accountable to policy that should have been replaced seven years ago and that all realized would not be possible to achieve.

“No Child Left Behind is a failed policy of the Bush administration that focuses on student failure and school punishment. This is no way to run a public education system. Enacting bad policy at the state level as a result of bad policy at the federal level will not help schools – and certainly won’t help students – be successful.”

We had to wait two months for Secretary Duncan to officially revoke the letter and now we wait to understand how the archaic accountable measures of NCLB will re reimplemented in our state.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another first . . .

Well, it became official today - Washington became the first state to lose the ESEA flexibility waiver.  As I have shared in many posts this was not unexpected, but it doesn't make the distinction feel any better.  You can read about it in many places.  I first saw it on the Tacoma News Tribune site, then in an announcement from OSPI that included Secretary Duncan's letter.  Below is the paragraph from the Secretary informing Superintendent Dorn of the waiver loss that was caused by not putting into legislation the requirement to use state assessment data in teacher evaluations.

This means going back to the accountability requirements of NCLB as measured by AYP.   The accountability target  is for EVERY student in the state to be at standard on all state administered assessments by this year, a standard that will not be met I believe by any school district.  Since we and many districts are now piloting the new Smarter Balanced assessments and will not be getting any results from the pilot I wonder how we will be measured.  In any case we, like all across the state, will be sending letters home informing parents that we did not meet AYP goals and providing them with the required options.  We will also need to set aside 20% of our Title 1 revenue for transportation and/or private tutoring for next year.

Given all that we are doing to change practice and support teacher growth that results in increased student achievement this is a step backward driven by federal decisions on what is best for our schools.  I struggle with this decision and with what we will now face as captured in this Comment by Secretary Dorn in the Tribune article.

Dorn, the state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement Thursday that he agrees with Duncan that "student progress should be one of multiple elements in a teacher's evaluation." He said lobbying by the state teachers union was to blame for Washington lawmakers' failure to act, and now the state's loss of the federal waiver.

"Unfortunately the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the Legislature not to act," Dorn said in his statement.

TPEP was a collaborative effort between multiple agencies including WEA and OSPI to design an evaluation system  focused on growth over time to influence practice and student achievement.  The statement above captures the  loss of collaboration that went into the development of this model and describes an adversarial current reality that emerged in the last legislative session.  We owe the creation of these battle lines to a decision made at the federal level that once again tells us their one size fits all prescription for school reform has greater potential to increase achievement than anything that we might come up with at the state and local level.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

National honors for another school . . .

Congratulations to Shadow Lake Elementary School students and staff for joining a select number of schools recognized as National Green Ribbon Schools.  They join 47 others across the nation in receiving this honor and are one of only two from our state this year.  They also join three others from our system Tahoma Junior High School, Tahoma High School, and Glacier Park Elementary School who received the honor in year one and two of the program.  I know that no other district in the state has this many recipients and wonder if it has been replicated anywhere in the country.

We also were honored at the state level as a Green District Leader, a step below being nominated for national district honors.  Many thought we were in position to be the district nominated by the state for this honor, but Vancouver received distinction.  Wonder what we need to do to make it over that hump and also wonder which of our schools will come forward to continue the tradition of having at least one school receive the honor in each year of the program.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Another reminder . . .

The end of this month brings with it two decisions with the potential to have serious short and long term impacts on public schools in our state.  The first is the legislature's response to the State Supreme Court's directive to supply them with a funding plan to meet the requirements in the McCleary decision. The second is the impending decision by the federal education department on the status of the NCLB waiver.

Yes, it seems like these have been reoccurring themes in my posts over time so why again so soon? Because of this front page article in yesterday's Seattle Times with the following title.

It would not be good to be the first state to lose the waiver, but if those in positions of authority in our state believe this and continue to say it we should soon find out.

Now, Washington may be the first state to have its waiver revoked because it didn’t go as far as the Obama administration wanted when it came to holding teachers accountable for their students’ performance.

“We fully expect to lose it,” said Kristen Jaudon, spokeswoman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
Why is it taking Secretary Duncan so long to make the decision?  Could it be because as he has publicly stated when compared to other states we are doing a good job without needing to use state test scores in teacher evaluation?  Could it be because the accountability requirements of NCLB will never be achieved and it makes no sense to hold a system accountable to them?  Could it be because the federal government should not be in a position to mandate how we evaluate teachers and principals?

It should be all of these plus others, but it is more than likely because he and they are struggling to figure out how to put the state back on the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) trail to being declared failing schools and school systems.  Once they decide how to hold us accountable to a standard that cannot be achieved we will learn how close we are to joining every other district in the state as a failing school system.

Before the waivers, schools were measured on something called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward the goal of every child passing math and reading tests by this school year — 100 percent proficiency.

No Washington school district with enough students to report test scores reached that mark last year, so they would be considered failing if Washington simply reverts back to the old accountability system.

Doesn't make much sense to me, but I think like someone in Washington State, not Washington D.C.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Announcing awards recipients . . .

Yesterday, OSPI announced the 413 schools to be recognized as 2013 Washington Achievement Award winners.  The awards are  based on a combination of factors that combine the state's Accountability Index with federal accountability criteria embedded in the ESEA waiver.  The Achievement Index ratings are now based on a review of state assessment data over the previous three years with a major focus on growth over time for all students while the previous ratings were focused on the percentage of students meeting standard.

What does this mean for Tahoma?  It means that for the first time we do not have multiple schools being recognized for this honor.  It means that the structures we have in place must change to better support growth over time for all students. Given that I am pleased to share that Tahoma High School is once again being recognized for this honor and will receive their award on April 24th at a ceremony at Timberline High School.  The high school is being honored in the category of “high progress”.  Schools that qualify for this honor are in the top 10% of schools making the most progress in the performance of all students over the last three years in reading and math using both proficiency rates as well as improvement from year to year.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Falling short . . .

In a March post I once again shared information on the struggles lawmakers face with meeting the State Supreme Court directive by April 30th to present a plan for full funding by the 2018-19 school year.  e knew following the recent session that they would not be able to do this and in this Tacoma News Tribune piece we learn that the response will fall far short of a funding plan.

A joint committee of legislators met with attorneys on Monday to go overt he directive and how to respond. Instead of a funding plan the Court will be presented with a summary of what the legislators have done including bills introduced this year that did not pass.

It will be interesting to see how this resonates considering the Court's previous order and this comment from a Crosscut piece suggesing that those providing guidance to the legislators understand the expectation.

"The court said estimates of a shortfall is not a plan," Kristen Fraser, counsel for the House Appropriations Committee, told the joint report-writing committee.

The joint committee will meet on the 29th to finalize the report if they can reach a consensus on what to include.  Whatever it ends up being, it will fall short of the expectation and create a difficult situation for the Court.  How will the Court respond?  Will all of this end up with full funding by 2018-19 or will we see it play out in a constitutional battle between the Court and legislature?  What do you want to see the Court do in response to the requested funding plan and expected response on April 30th?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Adding a possible delivery model . . .

For a number of years I have been reading about what I believe over time will become a common place learning model in public school systems called blended learning.  What is blended learning?  From this short post on Getting Smart we can see that it is a combination of teacher-led instruction, quality digital learning time, and group work and projects. We have an experience with this model, but it has not yet moved to the prototyping stage because it takes a commitment of resources to ensure quality in all components of the model especially in the digital learning component.  As we gain more experience and begin the process of reviewing delivery models with the opening of a new high school and altered grade level configurations K-12, blended learning will become a component of that review.  It is a model that has the potential to increase engagement for some students that also provides additional options for students and families.

The post included an infographic from Compass Learning that is shared below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hard to argue with . . .

John and Scott posted comments to my post wondering how the WEA decision to support families in opting out of state tests will influence results in our state and in our school system.  As I shared in the post, though I can understand the reasoning behind the decision I struggle with the impact on scores and how that might play out as the new accountability index is implemented.  Unfortunately, it is another of those uncomfortable situations created by demands on our state and local school systems by actions at the federal level.

John's comment captures well the frustrations teachers are experiencing.

This year, I will be spending 8 days of my 180 giving standardized tests to my students, and not receiving any feedback that can impact their learning, this year. That is simply irresponsible practice. 

Hard to argue with.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not good news . . .

Iv'e been watching for information on the status of our NCLB waiver given the legislator's inability to agree on revising state law to mandate the use of state assessments in teacher and principal evaluations and the news today is not what we wanted to hear.  In this Education Week article I learned that following a phone call Tuesday with Superintendent Dorn it appears that Secretary Duncan is on the verge of pulling the waiver.  If pulled, we would be back under the penalties of NCLB adequate yearly progress mandates with an as of today unknown timetable.

UPDATE: Dorie Nolt, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email:
"We are in touch with Washington officials on the state's request to extend Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility. Washington has made us aware that they are unable to meet the state's commitment to create a teacher- and principal-evaluation and -support system with multiple measures, including student growth based on state assessments and other measures of professional practice. The Department has not issued a final decision yet, but we recognize that the state needs to know soon as officials prepare local budgets for next school year."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm wondering . . .

I learned in this KUOW.ORG post that WEA has voted to support families in opting out of state mandated assessments including next year's common core tests from Smarter Balanced.  We have been seeing a growing trend across the country especially in New York, but other than in Seattle last year I haven't read or seen an organized opt out campaign.  Since it was a motion voted on by members I assume it took place at their annual conference.  Could this be the start of of a statewide movement? If local units follow the recommendations in the motion it very well could be.

1. Support the rights of parents/guardians to collaborate with teachers to determine appropriate options for assessment of student proficiency if opting out of statewide standardized assessments.
2. Encourage its local affiliates to work alongside student and parent leadership groups in promoting opt-out for Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests whenever possible.

3. Inform members of current student and parent organizations’ opt-out efforts through existing communication vehicles. The link to the OSPI form for parents to opt-out of state tests shall be made available to members via email.

Given the current reality of mandated testing and how those that opt out influence district and school data, I find myself more aligned with the position that OSPI has already taken following this WEA decision.

At the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, spokesman Nathan Olson objected to the motion. "We think that all students should take the test," Olson said. "The feds mandate them for a reason."

Under the federal law known as No Child Left Behind, students who refuse a test earn a zero – and the federal government can penalize schools that underachieve on standardized tests.

"To refuse to take the test, I think it only hurts the school, the district, and ultimately the state," Olson said.

 So, I'm wondering how those representing TEA voted and their plans for the future?  I'm also wondering influence this vote may have over time on assessment in our state.

Monday, April 7, 2014

More High School recognition . . .

The Washington Post has once again come out with their America's Most Challenging High School index based primarily on the number of college level courses offered.  More detail on how the rankings are determined can be found here.

The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year. Also noted are the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies (Subs. lunch) and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career, called equity and excellence, (E&E). A (P) next to the school's name denotes a private school.

Once again, Tahoma High School made list with state scores in the chart below.  At the national level our index of 2.234 placed us 919th.  Congratulations to our students, staff, and leadership at Tahoma High School.  Just think, in three more years it will say MAPLE VALLEY instead of Covington!

The chart below shows the growth in our program during the years of this ranking.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The other half . . .

We sometimes forget about principal evaluation with all the attention given to the teacher evaluation component of TPEP.  This year we have two principals on comprehensive status using the framework from the Association of Washington Principals.  It too has eight criteria.

1. Creating a Culture: Influence, establish and sustain a school culture conducive to continuous improvement for students and staff.
2. Ensuring School Safety: Lead the development and annual update of a comprehensive safe schools plan that includes prevention, intervention, crisis response and recovery.
3. Planning with Data: Lead the development, implementation and evaluation of the data- driven plan for improvement of student achievement.
4. Aligning Curriculum: Assist instructional staff in aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment with state and local learning goals.
5. Improving Instruction: Monitor, assist and evaluate staff implementation of the school improvement plan, effective instruction and assessment practices.
6. Managing Resources: Manage human and fiscal resources to accomplish student achievement goals.
7. Engaging Communities: Communicate and partner with school community members to promote student learning.
8. Closing the Gap: Demonstrate a commitment to closing the achievement gap.

As with teacher evaluation our focus is on growth over time with an emphasis on criteria 5, Improving Instruction.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these two principals in this implementation year as we learn how to make this process another positive contributor to our learning organization journey.  In our effort to gain feedback we recently asked teachers working with these two principals on comprehensive evaluations to respond to the questions and information request below.  Though a small sample, the responses reflect a positive experience and suggest that we are succeeding in our effort to maintain a focus on teacher growth.

  • Please share how your planning for and delivery of instruction has been influenced this year by my feedback and conversations with you.
  •  I have helped you grow as a teacher by . . .
  •  We know that feedback is an essential component of growth.  Please share with me any feedback that can help me grow in my capacity to support teacher growth.
  •  The area of TPEP that I found most challenging this year is . . .
  •  The area of TPEP that I found most rewarding this year is . . .

Below, are some of the responses taken from the most recent responses.  They reflect the tone and content of those given to me earlier with both positive and constructive feedback.  The information gives me additional insight into how these two principals are influencing planning and delivery as well as system information to consider as we review first year implementation of TPEP.  Please consider posting a comment if your are a principal or teacher on comprehensive this year sharing your experience.

Influenced this year . . .

  • Through the process of the comprehensive evaluation, my planning has become even more intentional than it has been in previous years. This is especially true for me in the areas of student talk and using success criteria in my classroom. Our conversations have been guided by these areas that I have been working on, which leaves me with food for thought and allows me to further question and refine lessons and their delivery. I have greatly appreciated these focused, ongoing conversations that have occurred both formally and informally. I have implemented some new ideas as a result of our conversations as well, such as assigning A-B partners for student talk on the carpet.
  • The feedback I have received as a result of his classroom visits has helped me see my teaching through the eyes of an experienced teacher/administrator. I have had both positive and constructive feedback and he has guided me to focus on a few critical areas. He has been tactful and direct so that I can efficiently focus my learning, implement strategies for improvement (e.g. how to wait when I ask questions before going right to an answer, how to randomize the process of engaging students, and how to differentiate groups to ensure fuller engagement). 

Most challenging . . .

  • This has been a year/time of big changes. The most obvious challenge is the extra stress and time it takes to complete the process. Although very valuable, it is another stress on a teacher's very complex and ever changing work. There are also some challenges with the system itself, learning how to input documents and evidence, and learning the numbering system of the criteria. I am sure that with time and practice it will become a smoother process.
  • The most challenging thing about TPEP was not knowing everything that needed to be done.  Even thoug I spent countless hours negotiating and sitting in meetings that gave me more information than most on comprehensive, we still did not have have all the answers at the start of the year and that was a challenge. As I reflect back I would have done a different growth goal that was not just a quick snapshot in time but rather a goal that could be measured and evaluated all year.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A bonus . . .

Winning Juniors
I had the opportunity this afternoon to work with one of our principals on a a comprehensive evaluation. During the conversation I learned that later in the afternoon he was facilitating a conversation with a group of math teachers focused on supporting students needing to meet the math graduation standard.  I decided it would be important for me to stay and observe the conversation and was awarded with a bonus because it was also the spirit assembly day where the spring sport teams are introduced.

Balloon toss - no winner
I have been at some of these assemblies over the years, but this one was different as there were many seniors not in attendance.  Some are Camp Casey counselors and others are on a European trip.  In the absence of these seniors it seemed that there was not as much energy in the room to get the students engaged and teacher Mike Seger was also missing to whip them into a frenzy.  The juniors won the competition to see what class was the loudest followed by the seniors and then the sophomores. Even without the normal numbers and noise, it was still a rewarding experience for me being in the presence of these great kids and committed adults.  And, if you are counting with me, yes it is another LAST!

Drum Line setting the tone

Flag and Rifle Team

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

And, the other side . . .

In a post last week I shared an article written by WASA Executive Director, Bill Keim, where he talked about the importance of voters in the education funding debate taking place in our state.  I shared the chart below that he embedded in the article comparing funding per student over time in our state.  He was using the data to suggest that taxpayers need to step up and assume more responsibility to meet the basic education funding demands in the McCleary decision.

In a blog post today, Liv Finne from the Washington Policy Center shares a different perspective on the article that captures how complex and polarizing this issue is in our state and nationally. She shares the following information to suggest that record dollars are being spent today with poor results.

At the same time, the public schools that WASA members manage often fail to educate children, contributing to the achievement gap, a high drop-out rate and diminished life chances for young people. Here are some statistics on school performance in Washington state:
● 21% of all students drop out;
● 31% of low-income students drop out;
● 58% of all tenth graders fail in math and 16% fail in reading;
● 81% of Black tenth graders fail in math and 27% fail in reading;
● 80% of Hispanic tenth graders fail in math and 26% fail in reading;
● 34% of schools rank as only Fair or Struggling on the School Achievement Index;

Mr. Keim’s response to these failures is to blame the public, and to call for even more tax money from working people.

She concludes her post with the following words.

It’s fair to say that taxpayers have done their part, especially in this economy. Instead of calling on voters to get serious about paying even more in taxes, school administrators should get serious about educating children, by improving graduation rates, closing the achievement gap, improving reading and math outcomes, encouraging innovative charter schools and other effective reforms.

School administrators appear primarily interested in boosting their own budgets, and they come across as complaining and ungrateful for the real financial sacrifices people are making now. Given record spending on public schools, Mr. Keim could at least say “thank you”.

Is one right and the other wrong?  Is one good and the other bad?  Our actions at times promote simple questions such as these that continue to polarize us.  Meeting the needs of our young people will not be realized with yes/no questions such as these.  We must instead find the question we can ask that will result in greater collaboration and problem solving instead of what we are experiencing today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Common core conversations . . .

In a post last week I shared how Indiana has become the first state to pull back from implementation of the common core state standards, CCSS.  Last night, we had the first of two meetings in our system for parents focused on the required implementation of these same standards in our schools that was attended by 46 elementary parents. Wednesday will be an opportunity for secondary parents.  The conversation and questions last night covered much of what we are seeing and hearing around the country with some people knowing little about them and wondering why we are making the change to those more knowledgeable that are concerned with the standards for a variety of reasons and wanting us to resist the change.  We cannot, however, resist implementation and have our students as ready as possible for the state-mandated common core aligned assessments in Spring 2015. Given this, we have a moral obligation to respond to this mandate by focusing our energy on aligning what we teach to what these assessments will ask of our students.

As I shared in the previous post, only time will tell if Indiana's pull back is the beginning of a trend or an anomaly due to the political situation in that state.  The map below from Education Week shows strong support for the standards across the country.  On a related issue, still no word from the federal education department on the status of our NCLB waiver.