Partially motivated by a desire to move beyond the political strife around the Common Core State Standards, the Center for American Progress released a report last week outlining various strategies used by teachers, administrators, and elected officials to help implement the standards.
The Washington think tank highlighted curriculum development in Colorado, teacher evaluations in New Haven, Conn., and teacher preparation in Arizona as potential models for states to use as they fully transition to the standards in the 2014-15 academic year.
"Roadmap for a Successful Transition to the Common Core in States and Districts" was written by CAP's Carmel Martin, a former assistant secretary at the U.S. department under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as Max Marchitello, and Melissa Lazarin. The report also makes nine recommendations to help states make the common-core transition. A few of these recommendations include:
• "States and districts should administer better, fairer, and fewer tests." This is an idea that common-core supporters are trying to highlight. Achieve, one of the main organizations involved in the common core's development, earlier this month announced a new "student assessment inventory tool" meant to help K-12 officials track the amount of testing given to their students to inform decisions about testing and their discussions with the public. Connecticut K-12 chief Stefan Pryor, discussing his state's decision to pilot this inventory tool, said, "Our dual goals are to decrease unnecessary testing and to increase instructional time."
• "States and districts should phase in the use of high-stakes consequences for teachers and students tied to the newly adopted common-core-aligned assessments." I wrote earlier this month about decisions in states like Colorado, Florida, and Ohio that have moved in some way to delay the consequences of common-core assessments for teachers, schools, or both.
• "States, districts, and schools should provide additional time for teachers to collaborate and plan together." The report stresses that teachers in the U.S. actually spend too much time in front of students and don't get enough time to cooperate and share strategies. In Finland, they point out, teachers only are up in front of classrooms for 550 to 700 hours a year, compared to more than 1,000 for the U.S. counterparts.
I also had the opportunity to moderate a panel where this report was discussed. The panelists included Martin, as well as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's Chester Finn, and two former governors, Ted Strickland of Ohio and Jim Douglas of Vermont. All four are common-core supporters, although Finn and Martin had a disagreement about to what extent the federal department's support for the common core has damaged it politically. You can watch a video of the panel below:
And again below, you can check out the full report: