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Topic: [ncsm-members] Preparedness For Common Standards
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Preparedness For Common Standards
Posted: Apr 3, 2012 2:16 PM
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A response in regard to the CCSS in the article below.. Response is
from Susan Smith, a fifth-grade teacher in Indiana, at

I am a 5th grade teacher in a small, rural school corporation, and
our corporation has taken a pro-active approach towards the CCS that
Indiana's D.O.E. has readily adopted. We are in the process of
matching where the CCS and IN-Standards meet, and where we need to
add content.

Unfortunately, as we try to blend and match the CCS with our State
Standards, we are seeing, especially in the Math core, that the
curriculum content has been pushed down nearly a full a grade level.
This means the CCS shows mostly current 6th grade content being
taught at the 5th grade level, current 5th grade content at 4th grade
level, 4th grade at 3rd grade level, and so forth. The way the
concepts will need to be taught, means Math facts, for example,
(Add., Sub., Multi. & Div.) must be mastered by the 3rd grade, for
students to understand the concepts presented in 4th grade. AND,
if students don't have them long before 5th grade, they will be
totally lost and well behind.

Unfortunately, that first year the CCS fully comes into play,
students and teachers will be on overload, having to learn 2 year's
worth of content in one year. Granted, most concepts overlap some
each in grade level, but to be able to master that content in that
first year of CCS, will definitely be a challenge.

The other thing that really bothers me is that pushing the content
down grade levels, means in many cases, the students are not
ready, age-level-wise, or maturity-wise, to comprehend those
concepts. To get it all in within 13 years (including Kindergarten),
and to hopefully have that student college ready when they finish
high school, means we are going to have to put more money into
pre-school and have those students ready at Kindergarten age for 1st
grade material. Many, at the ages of 4-5, do not yet have the fine
motor skills, or brain abilities, to comprehend material that they
should be doing at age 6-7. And this follows all the way through
their elementary years. We cannot teach concepts their young brains
are not mature enough to comprehend.

I guess I'm wondering, what was so wrong with my education in the
60's and 70's? I did not just learn test facts and content beyond my
age abilities so I could try to pass a state/government mandated
test. I was taught content to my appropriate age. My education taught
me to think and problem-solve, and become a life-long learner. I
learned to become a productive, well-educated citizen.

Here I am, 54 years-old, and after a life in the business world, I'm
now a fairly new, teacher of only 5 years.

Today, as a teacher, I struggle to teach the thinking and
problem-solving skills and concepts I was taught, because I am so
engrossed in pushing test content that is quickly rising beyond my
students' age-appropriate capabilities. I wonder, who is running this
show? What early-education expert approved this?

I understand the needs to meet the challenges of technology and the
global life our future generations will be challenged with. I embrace
all of that. But when I see our education system changing from
what it used to be: educating and producing creative thinkers and
problem-solvers, into: creating and producing test takers, I am
greatly concerned. We don't need test-takers. We need innovators, and
people who can reason, develop concepts, and communicate in the
world. Because we are so involved in a global economy and business
world, our future generations will need to continue to be those broad
thinkers, problem solvers, and communicators.

We teachers need to teach, not just content, concepts, and facts to
be able to pass a test. Our greater educational goal should be to
teach the ability to use those concepts and ideas. Our education
ethics and capabilities MUST meet the needs of our students. Those
needs should not just be to pass a test, nor meet the needs of a
bureaucrat's content time table. We just need to be able to teach.


Mrs. Susan Smith
5th Grade Teacher, Indiana


>>> Jerry Becker 03/27/12 7:25 PM >>>

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record],
Monday, March 19, 2012. See
Preparedness For Common Standards: A Work in Progress

By Catherine Gewertz

Three years can seem like a lot of time or a little, depending on
your perspective. I'm betting that when it comes to the Common Core
State Standards, most teachers feel like three years isn't a lot.

Three years from now is when the assessments designed for the
standards are supposed to be fully operational. Assuming those tests
end up being faithful reflections of the standards, students will be
tested on how well they've mastered the expectations outlined there.
And those results, in turn, are supposed to reflect whether 11th
graders are ready for college and careers, and whether younger
students are on track to be.

We've written before about the educator corps' own journey toward
readiness. It's a seriously big job to reach millions of teachers and
principals nationwide with the key messages of the standards, let
alone to reach deeply enough to change long-held practice. And that's
where the weird, contradictory sense of time comes in: is three years
enough or too little to get that job done?

A couple of posts by my colleagues recently put me in mind of the
questions hanging over the professional-development piece of the
common standards. Lesli Maxwell reported recently that teachers in
California don't exactly feel prepared to manage the bridging
required to allow English learners to access the standards. And Erik
Robelen reported last week on a new study that found, among other
things, that most teachers know about the standards, but few feel
fully prepared to teach them.

The study showed half of teachers feeling "somewhat prepared," with
about one quarter on either side of that feeling "very prepared" or
"somewhat/very unprepared."

So the optimistic spin is that the vast middle chunk shows how far
the system has come since the standards were unveiled nearly two
years ago. But the pessimistic spin is that there is still a long way
to go. Having just come back from a trip to Kentucky, where I watched
the intense focus on the common core play out in two school
districts, I can tell you that there is some very passionate work
going on out there. How far that reaches, and how it takes hold, will
bear watching.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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