Saturday, March 29, 2014

CCSS-Uninformed haters should get on the train

I just saw the trailer for and was disappointed. First of all, the trailer was not clear on what their actual point was. Just a vague "common core is bad" message that was kind of all over the place. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a good thing, and will force us to teach the way students actually learn, and prepare them for tasks that they will actually face in the real world.
Here are my more extended thoughts:

Who is the intended audience for this movie/trailer? Just people who are already ticked off about what they THINK the CCSS means, and are, and will remain, uneducated about the truth about how the CCSS were developed.

Should public school have as much power as it does?

Is this a "federal" thing?
No, no, no, no, no. All you people that think that states should have their own standards, of that education should be decentralized don't know what you're talking about. States had their own standards since (in CA's case) 1997. They weren't good. There were lots of problems with them.

Are standards at all something that should be looked at seriously?
Yes. There's a valid conversation, here. However, the conclusion, by people truly thinking about practicalities, not just political talking points, will be that standards are good. Students that move between schools, districts, or states, will still get a quality education that won't have holes. Teachers will have guidance as to what to teach at what grade level. This is a practical, helpful thing. And if the standards are written in an intelligent way, which the CCSS are, then this is a good thing, a practical thing, a helpful thing.

Is the assessment system totally disfunctional?
Yes. Way too much punishment and fear, and not enough understanding about how it affects daily teaching and learning in a negative way. Many people not involved in education seem to think that since they were in school once, they can talk with authority about education. These people seem to champion "reforms" that put more and more pressure on teachers and students. This kind of pressure has led to "No Child Left Behind" and lots of disfunctional things in the public school system. 

CCSS is wonderful. It will challenge me and other teachers to think more deeply about what our students truly need to function in the real world, and not just teaching to a test that is way too divided into discrete skills...skills that are necessarily tied together in every reading experience. The progression between grade levels is incredibly well thought-out and logical.

As far as I can tell right now, the assessment is much wiser and reasonable. It is not just one big test at the end of the year that we all stress out over and try to make practice tests that mimic it; we will give CCSS tests several times during the year, and students will get test results that asses what grade level they are functioning at...this is another testament to how well the standards progress from one another between grade levels.

The roll-out of it all has been, to say the least, awkward. 1. Standards 2. Textbooks 3. Assessments. These should have all come out at the same time. At least make it so that teachers aren't having to scramble to create CCSS-compatible materials with no new textbooks available. Having the assessments available so that we could see what these standards actually look like when students take the test would have been helpful. However, now that the transition is much closer to being complete, I am very, very hopeful that this is gong to be a good change, once we all adjust.

It is unfortunate that so many people on Facebook, other social media, and the web seem to be blasting Common Core, when they don't know what they're talking about. If they have issues with public school, that's a valid conversation. If they have issues with how the CCSS were agreed to, then in most cases, they just need to read up and educate themselves about how this change began. In almost all cases, those that are now blasting CCSS are very, very late to the party. To actually make a difference, criticism and objections to this should have been raised at least 3 years ago. This train has left the station.

And it's a good train. It's going somewhere worth going.