Sunday, January 05, 2014

Still too early to judge if new standards are working

Some say revamped standards that stress critical thinking are effective;

others argue it's too soon to tell

This from

So is Common Core a success or a failure? Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said it is too early to tell.

Dixie Heights High School teacher Kris Gillis

“The people who crunch numbers will tell you you need at least three years worth of data to see if something is working or needs to be changed. We’re only in the second year,” he said.

There are two things that need to be figured out, he said: Whether the standards are being taught correctly and whether the tests accurately measure what students are learning.

Teachers like the Common Core in general, he said, but it will take some time to iron out all the kinks.

Dave Adkinsson, president and chief executive of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, has been touring the state with Holliday, talking up the standards to communities and businesses. He’s optimistic.

“I would say it’s working in that the implementation has been smoother than we expected,” Adkinsson said. “I’m not hearing significant resistance from teachers. I think they’ve been remarkably adaptable and committed.”

He said the state will need to watch graduation rates and college remediation rates over the next few years.

“Being deficient in college has been a big problem in Kentucky and other states. Aligning that is important,” he said. “It will be a multiyear process.”

In Kenton County, the district has gotten accolades for its implementation of two teaching models – the literacy design collaborative (LDC) and the math design collaborative (MDC) – to teach the Common Core. They were developed using grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More than a dozen other states have since adopted the models.

Gillis, who uses the LDC model, says he knows Common Core is working because of what he sees in the classroom.

“I’ve taught this way for a long time; a lot of good teachers have done this. The first goal in LDC is for students to participate. My good teachers always did that,” he said. “I feel like Common Core standards say this is what a good classroom looks like.”

Others agree.

“Quite frankly, the writing pieces we’re getting now are significantly better than the writing pieces we would get in the past,” said McCormick, the district’s English consultant. “That’s really where we’re seeing the benefit.”

Some point to a rise in college- and career-readiness rates as evidence the Common Core is working.
“In that case its been an overwhelming success,” said Holliday. He said the state’s 86 percent graduation rate is among the highest in the country and its college- and career-readiness rates rose from 34 percent in in 2010 to 54 percent in 2013.

Still, critics continue to lobby actively against the standards. The main argument is that they think states should be allowed to develop their own standards rather than be required to use national curriculum standards. In the region:

• Indiana had agreed to adopt the standards before conservative lawmakers put it on hold earlier this year.

• In Ohio, a group of Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives proposed House Bill 237, which would prohibit the state board of education from adopting or implementing the standards in Ohio.

• In Kentucky, no anti-Common Core bill has been proposed, but an opposition group is rallying support to kill the standards.

Anthony Strong, superintendent of the Pendleton County School District and president-elect of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said the good outweighs the bad.

“I know there’s criticism of different parts,” he said. “As a local superintendent, I feel like we have lots of opportunities. We can still develop our own curriculum.” ■

1 comment:

Martin Cothran said...

I have a comment on this here: