The Common Core Takes Hold
Once in a month, hundreds of teachers, school leaders, and district officials in Kentucky meet to discuss issues regarding implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Kentucky meetings take place in eight regions that comprise about 20 school districts each.
- It is a one & only effort that the state has undertaken to help teachers make the common core standards as an integral part of classroom practice.
- The state department of education also built an online portal called Kentucky’s Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, which hosts lessons, tests, and curriculum materials.
- The state has also engaged its higher-education institutions to restore assessments used for placement in first-year courses to line up with the standards, and to reform teacher-preparation programs. The funding required for execution is undefined. The quality of assessments and curriculum materials necessary to support execution is not yet clear.
- The work already under way suggests that the common core standards are beginning to pierce the classroom and will have an impact on teaching and learning.
Deviation in the Standards:
The first generation of standards-based reform, in the 1990s, had a distinctly mixed impact on instruction and student performance. In addition, execution efforts often failed to have meaningful effects on classroom practice.
The common core standards are in danger due to the same differences in understanding the earlier round of standards reform. Although, some state standards are consistent with the common core, others are knowingly different, suggesting that many teachers are understating the differences. In a survey of English language arts classrooms, it is found that most elementary school teachers, at least in the early stages of common core execution, assigned books based on students’ abilities, rather than grade-level difficulty.
Based on self-reports on the basis of a survey, it is found that in 30 states, curriculum aligned to the common core was already being taught in at least some districts or grade levels. The survey of all states has developed and distributed plans for execution. 29 states had developed curriculum guides or materials aligned to the common core and 18 states had revised assessments to reflect the standards.
Supporters of the common core standards have also been concerned that the base of support could wear away when the first results are released from the new assessments designed to measure student performance against them. Many standards advocate distress that what appears to be a drop in student performance might convince some policymakers to abandon the effort.
In the meantime, states are executing the common core standards because they are convinced that it is in their best interest, and in the interest of the nation as a whole for young people to develop the knowledge and skills the standards symbolize. Despite the challenges, states and districts are attempting to make it happen in tens of thousands of schools across the country.