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Posts from the ‘CCSS’ Category

Vital issue: teacher training

The Common Core always seems to be making headlines. But the all-important issue of teacher training in connection with the core too often gets lost. So, it was heartening to see this issue on the cover of the Sunday New York Times magazine.

The magazine article is about professional development for educators teaching the new math. Some excerpts are posted below for our readers. Let us know how they resonate with you.

“The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it.”

“With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers. “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless,” says Phil Daro, an author of the math standards.”

“Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core. A new set of academic standards developed to replace states’ individually designed learning goals, the Common Core math standards are like earlier math reforms, only further refined and more ambitious.”

“And yet, once again, the reforms have arrived without any good system for helping teachers learn to teach them. Responding to a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they had typically spent fewer than four days in Common Core training, and that included training for the language-arts standards as well as the math.”

Governor puts $$$ behind effort to make Common Core succeed

There’s probably an office in Hartford somewhere where the reports of the state’s countless task forces are gathering dust. Not so with the final report and recommendations—released today—from the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force.

“This may be the first state task force to be instantly funded,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who established the task force in March.

Calling his funding and response to the recommendations “quick and deliberate action” to improve support for teachers and ensure that students succeed, Governor Malloy pledged to allocate about $5 million of the current budget of the State Department of Education to areas recommended by the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force. The governor will also ask the State Bond Commission to authorize an additional $10 million to prioritize school technology upgrades to support transition to the new Common Core standards.

Governor Malloy also said today his administration will continue a dialogue with parents, teachers, administrators, and students as districts work to implement the Common Core State Standards. The specific actions released today are contained in Governor Malloy’s Connecticut Core Initiative.

The governor’s program is described as an ongoing effort to identify and address challenges with the Common Core.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We are grateful to the teachers who spent countless hours working on the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force, gathering information, and developing recommendations around key areas of concern—areas identified by educators on the front lines of public education. These areas include the time, support, materials, and professional learning and training opportunities that must be made available to Connecticut educators.”

Cohen continued, “While the recommendations are a positive first step, we recognize that much more work is needed to successfully implement the standards in our state. It is imperative that educators are front and center in continuing to develop specific approaches and strategies to successfully implement the Connecticut Core recommendations that can make a real difference in the classroom and improve student growth and achievement. Given the Governor’s commitment to these specific goals and his promise of having future open dialogues on all aspects of the Common Core State Standards, I’m confident we can move forward together to maintain the high standards we have for all Connecticut public school students.”

In March, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce was asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools, and school districts across the state and nation.

Juanita Harris, a Danbury school counselor and teacher, was a member of the task force. She emphasized that the group’s charge was specific, and there are additional public school issues that need to be addressed including Smarter Balanced testing and the state teacher evaluation system. Harris called the report and recommendations released today “a good collaborative document and one of its highlights is a commitment to ongoing dialogue and a role for teachers in school reform.”

Elizabeth Misiewicz, a Ridgefield teacher, said she is hopeful that the report will be well received. Diana Burns, a Westbook teacher, described the task force report as “excellent, showing lots of thoughtfulness and collaboration.”

CCSS Task Force Meets for the Last Time: Puts Forth Recommendations

On the national education scene, the Gates Foundation is making headlines for calling for a two-year moratorium on states or school districts making any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new standards. Closer to home, Connecticut has taken a step forward on the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in our state because the CCSS task force has wrapped up business. Yesterday the task force held its final meeting. Two online group edits are scheduled before the final report is presented to Governor Malloy and is available publicly.

The task force was careful to write that this is not the end. The group, which worked over a three-month period on ways to improve implementation of the CCSS across the state, found that future work and focus need to occur to help support teachers and students.

SONY DSCThe task force, made up of teachers, administrators, parents, board of education members, and State Department of Education (SDE) officials, incorporated information from their own districts, guest presenters, and from the SDE to develop a gap analysis of the implementation process. The gap analysis discovered the following.

1) The state’s action to implement CCSS and actions taken by some districts to implement were not always in sync.

2) A significant variance exists among districts in their preparedness for the CCSS and in their adoption of the best practices demonstrated by many of the most successful districts.

3) While successful districts benefitted from established benchmarks and strategic plans mapped out over several years, the realization of uniform implementation would have benefitted  from a strong, benchmarked implementation plan provided by the state.

4) Through a survey commissioned by both teachers’ unions, the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, teachers expressed concerns about the amount of time that they had to learn, develop, and implement the new standards since they were adopted.

5) The successful introduction of a new, comprehensive set of grade-level expectations requires clear, consistent communication.

The task force found many areas in need of improvement—two of the biggest include professional development and time. The draft report found that districts that demonstrated successful implementation “all shared a system-wide commitment to improving and growing the capacity of staff at all levels. In addition, successful districts invested significant resources in professional development positions to provide necessary time, focus and quality of skills to help all district staff manage the change.”

The group also noted that time matters, and districts that demonstrated successful implementation all devoted enough time for teachers to learn, develop and implement the standards in their classroom. Those districts provided “time for teachers to prepare units and lessons individually and collaboratively with colleagues. Successful districts provided necessary time for the development of important instructional competencies, providing early release days, late start days and paid time during the summer for curriculum writing, professional development and teacher collaboration.”

The task force members agreed that all recommendations must be evidence based, actionable, inclusive of all stakeholders, and measurable. In a consensus vote, the task force put forth numerous recommendations in the following categories.

1) Develop clear and consistent knowledge of CCSS at the classroom, school, district, and state level.

2) Provide the necessary support and training to effectively transition the CCSS into district- defined curricula.

3) Support all teachers and instructional staff in developing the capacity to master the instructional shifts that the CCSS necessitates.

4) Engage all stakeholders in a rich dialogue regarding CCSS that is marked by multiple points of interaction, jargon-free communication and a commitment to keep teachers, parents, and community members informed, and able to participate in the process.

5) Provide the necessary resources to support effective implementation across all state districts and schools.

The task force concluded that the process was a “learning continuum and recognizes that future work and focus outside of the task force need to occur.” The group recommended that more needs to be done by stakeholders in the areas of the CCSS specifically as it relates to students with special needs, providing developmentally appropriate instructional strategies to engage students, formative and summative assessment—including SBAC, simultaneous and interdependent initiatives such as teacher evaluation.

A final document will be approved over the next few days and presented to the governor by June 30.

A copy of the report will be posted on line as soon as it becomes available.


What’s in store for Common Core Implementation

We’ll soon know what specific recommendations the state’s Educators Common Core Implementation Task Force will send to Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who established the group in March.

Next Wednesday, June 11, the 25 individuals on the task force will meet at Cromwell High School to address recommendations at what is expected to be their last gathering.

This week, at their June 4 meeting, members of the task force reacted to a draft of their report to their governor. Some of the sections in the report included an executive summary, an overview of the panel’s process, lessons learned, and recommendations. When the group got to the recommendations section of the draft, they had little time left—before their scheduled adjournment—to review and discuss recommendations.

Based on the task force discussion this week, the co-chairs of the task force, along with the governor’s office, are working on a new draft that will soon be circulated to members.

Last month, Mark Watts of Abacus Associates, a public opinion firm, shared the results of a survey of 600 CEA and AFT members who are responsible for implementing the Common Core in their schools.
The survey found that “the issues teachers have with implementing the Common Core are both broad and deep.” Educators are most concerned about the amount of time, support and materials, and professional learning and training opportunities available to them.

Common Core Task Force Reviews CEA, AFT Survey of Teachers

At today's meeting of the State's Common Core Task Force members looked directly at the issues teachers themselves report having implementing the Common Core State Standards...

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Time Limitations Challenge Quality CCSS Implementation

Time demands associated with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were front and center among teachers and administrators at today’s meeting of the state’s new CCSS task force.

Wallingford K-2 school principal Vicki Reed told her colleagues that her district has made progress in designing its curriculum with the CCSS. “The work is ongoing,” she said. “There are always revisions.” Read more