Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Common Core

I attended a workshop last week in Omaha about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from the Marzano Research Lab perspective.  I was confused about how the standards were organized, what they were saying and why they are the way they are.  In finding out the What and Why of the the CCSS helped me make more sense of them.  The standards may seem large and overwhelming, there are three parts, but only two of them are actually standards.  The third part is clarifying what can be done to achieve the standard.

The first part of the CCSS is the Anchor Standard.  Another term for this is the Culmination standard.  It is a K-12 Global Statement.  It is what all students in all grades should be aiming to achieve.  In English/Language Arts (ELA) there are 32 of these standards.  Ten each for reading and writing and six each for Speaking/Listening and Language.  In Math they vary per grade level and some carry over grade levels.  They are written differently than the ELA standards.  Overall in math there are eight standards for mathematical practice.

The next level of the standards in the ELA is Grade Level Standards(GLS).  These are the Benchmark standards.  What should students be able to do in each grade.  The final level in ELA is Clarifying Indicators.  These ARE NOT STANDARDS.  They are the details of how to better understand what is being asked in the Grade Level Standard.  The nuts and bolts of the GLS.

Prioritization is the key.  States and schools will need to decide what they want their students to learn to be college and career ready.    

I will be the first to admit that before this workshop, I was completely against having the CCSS in Nebraska. (Note: I was a part of the last revision of the Math Standards, so I have a “dog in the fight”.)  After two days of hearing about how the CCSS are organized, and all the resources that are out there I feel a little different.  Notice how I said “a little”, I am not completely sure that the entire CCSS is what Nebraska needs at this time or ever.  I do feel that in the next revisions, especially with the mathematics standards, that we need to look VERY closely at what the CCSS say in the math standards.  If we are expecting our Nebraska High School graduates to be college and career ready and able to compete with graduates from other states that have adopted the CCSS, we need to consider them in the revision of our Nebraska standards as well.  I still feel very passionate about Nebraska standards and state tests being written by Nebraska teachers.  Who better knows the students of Nebraska better than Nebraska teachers.

These are just my opinions and are open for discussion and debate. But I do feel, as stated earlier, that we at least need to consider some parts of the CCSS for Nebraska standards.  Maybe with some Nebraska “tweaks” to fit what we want to have our graduates College and Career Ready.