Education column: Teachers transition to common core state standards

For some years now, research has been conducted on state educational standards used across the United States. Since state standards may vary considerably, students complete their public education based on academic standards that are different from state to state. This is a disservice to students entering college or the work place in this rapidly changing and increasingly global economy.

The culmination of this research is the new Common Core Standards for English language arts and math, K-12. In a nutshell, this state-led initiative is a result of the joint efforts of an extremely diverse group of educators, experts, parents, school administrators, and community leaders across the country, coordinated through their membership in the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. The new standards have been benchmarked to international standards "to guarantee that our students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace." It's interesting to note that the federal government was not involved in the development of the standards, nor will it be involved in the implementation of the new standards; this has been a state-led initiative from the beginning. A wealth of information can be found at the Common Core State Standards Initiative's website, located at www.corestandards.org.

At this point almost all of the states, along with the District of Columbia, have adopted the new Common Core Standards, some through their state boards of education, some through their state legislatures. The Guiding Principles of the New Mexico Common Core are outlined at the NM Public Education Department website (newmexicocommoncore.org) and include:

  • preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in education and training after high school;
  • ensure students are globally competitive;
  • improve equity and economic opportunity for all students by having consistent expectations for achievement for all students;
  • clarify so that parents, teachers and students understand what is expected of them;
  • and, collaborate across districts and with other states for sharing of resources, expertise in materials development, teacher professional development and student exams based upon best practices.

The Common Core Standards are challenging, including rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher order skills, with the intent constituting "a different approach to learning, teaching, and testing that engenders a deeper understanding of critical concepts and the practical application of that knowledge." Information about New Mexico's transition to the Common Core is available through the NM PED website, along with a timeline for implementing these standards over the course of the next three years.

Teachers in Clovis are receiving professional development surrounding the Common Core State Standards. Kindergarten through third grade students will begin the transition to the standards in the fall of 2012. Students in grades 4-12 will begin the transition in the fall of 2013. Common Core information for Clovis Municipal Schools can be found at www.clovis-schools.org/instruction/curriculum.html, or, feel free to call the Instruction Department at Central Office, 769-4300.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at: cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org

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