By Jay Greenlinger, Principal
This is part 2 of a 3 part blog entry. Last week, I provided some background on the “Standards Movement” and how US education sees a back-and-forth in regards to large-scale change.
In the past, debates were had over whether there should be a “national curriculum” instead of an individual set of academic standards for each of the 50 states. With each state holding its own standards, it is very hard to compare the academic progress of students from different states. For example, California has one of the toughest sets of standards for all grade levels, so comparing our state testing results to that of an “easier” state provides little meaning or value. And, with the No Child Left Behind Act, schools, districts, and states are compared to each other regardless of the inconsistency in criteria of how a student is deemed “proficient”.
Now, US educators find themselves in the throws of a large scale standards change, truly unlike any other in the past. As soon as 2013-2014 (next year!!!), California students will be taking standardized tests that do not measure progress on the California State Standards. Instead, they will be tested on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a revised set of standards that provides greater depth and meaning to the skills and concepts taught in our schools.
California content standards have often been described as “a mile wide and an inch deep,” meaning that teachers are required to teach more skills and concepts than they have days in the school year. This often leads to “going over” a concept, rather than truly teaching students to a level of deep understanding. The language of the standards include thought processes such as “identify, describe, or understand,” which do not reflect a deep understanding of concepts, skills, or ideas.
The number of standards in math, science, and language in the CCSS at each grade level have been reduced by approximately 17%. Furthermore, the language in the standards themselves requires students to “analyze, apply, discuss, and defend,” which should lead to a deeper understanding by students of grade level content. Of all the changes to education in the recent past, teachers are most excited about the “requirement” that they teach students to deeply understand what they learn.
Of course, if you change what students need to learn, you need to change how you teach them. Part 3 of this post, coming next week, will outline how PVSD – especially the teachers at LMS- are preparing for the coming changes.
In the meantime, I invite you to visit the PTA’s “Parent’s Guide to the Common Core.” There is a two page pdf of the changes for each grade level. The guide is clear and concise, and should give you an idea of how your child’s grade level content will change this year and beyond.
Read Part 3 Coming Soon
Jay Greenlinger, Principal