Saturday, November 17, 2012

Common Core Standards

On March 12, 2012, State School Chief of California, Tom Torlekson,  introduced a plan to Implement Common Core Standards in California.

What are Common Core Standards and where did this come from?
These are a set of standards for Math and English Language Arts that were designed for all states to adopt so learning could be more uniform across the country.  In 2010 the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association released the standards that spell out what children are expected to learn in those two subjects from kindergarten through the end of high school. To find these standards through high school go to Common Core Standards for San Francisco and the bay area. These are very detailed and you have to go through many pages to find the standards for each subject and grade level. The high school standards are set to provide students with the skills to compete in the global marketplace. The idea is to uniformly boost student achievement across the country. President Obama and his education cabinet member, Arnie Duncan, both support this effort to improve public education.

What are these standards for elementary school?  The California Common Core Standards from the California Department of Education for elementary is specifically for each grade k-8. They are much easier to read and include history, art, science, physical education, music, visual and performing arts, and school libraries. The link I have given you in this paragraph states that standards unique to California are in bold print, such as write fluidly and legibly in cursive or joined italics in fourth grade. Some schools stopped teaching cursive a while ago.

How do these standards affect our children? Many of the standards are the same standards that students have had in the past. However, there seems to be more emphasis on creativity. This is fantastic for students and teachers. Creativity puts the joy back in schools and makes students critical thinkers. The writing standards for 3rd grade are higher than in the past. Students will be expected to use technology to produce and publish writing, gather information from print or digital resources, take notes, and write over extended time frames for specific purposes. Implementation will begin in 2013-2014. However textbook materials will not be ready until 2016.

What challenges are ahead? If students are expected to use computers to write over extended time frames and gather information, schools will need to update computers and provide plenty of them. With 30 kids in the classroom the logistics of providing time for all students to have access to computers, could be a nightmare. They will also need to have access to Google Docs or some form of digital saving that is easy to set up and use. Ink will also be necessary as teachers will want to print some. New Haven has applied for the federal grant Race to the Top. New Haven is one of 61 that has made it to the next round of approval. One of the things New Haven have asked for is mini ipads for every 2 elementary students. This would certainly help with the technology needed. However, schools will need to expand their technicians to keep all these computers or mini tablets running without delay. Just the updates on mini ipads will be demanding. Technicians are going to cost $$$$.

 Maureen Tecson's students using 
ipads and itouch's in the classroom.

I also see committees on new report cards being formed. This is just my initial post on what lies ahead for children and schools. I am sure I will have more to say about this. Having common goals with the rest of the nation is good. However, schools still have to fund it (provide resources), provide training for teachers, and figure out some kind of sensible testing or portfolio system to evaluate the child. Hopefully this is goodby to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

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