It’s working: A teacher’s report on the Common Core

A recent Gallup Poll reveals our nation’s teachers are divided on the Common Core State Standards. From the perspective of teachers, disgruntled from decades of changing standards, many see the recently decreased test scores and students authentically struggling on deep and meaningful tasks, and assume the worst—it must be a fault in the Common Core and the exams. These critiques have been echoed by others and represent a serious misunderstanding of what is occurring in classrooms across the United States where the Common Core standards are being implemented. The truth lies in the fact that teachers in states who have had more time and experience with the Common Core increasingly support the new standards.

From the perspective of a teacher, I see the exact opposite of what those opposed to the Common Core describe. The Common Core provides exactly what students need—high standards that are pushing educators and students to excellence every single day. I want schools that will allow all children to discover their passion, give them the tools to follow that passion and help them succeed in 21st century colleges and careers. As we have seen in Kentucky, Common Core implementation has coincided with higher performanceand greater participation on the ACT. While correlation does not prove causation, it should come as no surprise that a focus on close reading and analysis of text ultimately leads to greater college and career readiness.

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Common Core Reading: ‘The New Colossus’

The Common Core State Standards are changing what many kids read in school. They’re standards, sure — not curriculum. Teachers and districts still have great latitude when it comes to the “how” of reading instruction, but…

The Core standards explicitly require students to read “complex” material, and the fact is, many kids simply weren’t doing that before the Core. What were they doing?

Teachers in Washoe County Schools (in and around Reno, Nev.) — and many districts nationwide — once used what they call a “skills and strategies” approach to teach reading. It was particularly common among poor schools where lots of kids struggled.

The idea was this: To learn how to be a good reader, kids needed to learn the skills and strategies that good readers use. Those include knowing how to find the main idea of a text, identifying key details, being able to draw conclusions, etc.

Teachers in Reno would begin each lesson by telling students the skill they’d be learning that day, says Cathy Schmidt, who taught elementary school.

This is the Part 1 in a 4-part series on reading in the Common-Core era. Read the full article here.

Common Core ELA | Myths Versus Facts

There is a lot of hype going around about the Common Core.

Successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards requires parents, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to have the facts about what the standards are and what they are not.

The following myths and facts have been published by the Common Core State Standards Initiative to address common misconceptions.

Myths About Content and Quality:
English Language Arts/Literacy

Myth: The standards are just vague descriptions of skills and do not include a reading list or any other reference to content.

Fact: The standards do include sample texts that demonstrate the level of text complexity appropriate for the grade level and compatible with the learning demands set out in the standards. The exemplars of high-quality texts at each grade level provide a rich set of possibilities and have been very well received. This provides a reference point for teachers when selecting their texts, along with the flexibility to make their own decisions about what texts to use.

Myth: English teachers will be asked to teach science and social studies reading materials.

Fact: With the ELA standards, English teachers will still teach their students literature as well as literary nonfiction. However, because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write, and research across the curriculum, including in history and science. These goals can be achieved by ensuring that teachers in other disciplines are also focusing on reading and writing to build knowledge within their subject areas.

Myth: The standards do not have enough emphasis on fiction/literature.

Fact: The Common Core requires certain critical content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s founding documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare. Appropriately, the remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are made at the state and local levels. The standards require that a portion of what is read in high school should be informational text, yet the bulk of this portion will be accounted for in non-ELA disciplines that do not frequently use fictional texts. This means that stories, drama, poetry, and other literature account for the majority of reading that students will do in their ELA classes. In addition to content coverage, the standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

For more Myths Versus Facts on the Common Core State Standards, visit: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/