On Monday Laura Knoy and the Exchange took up the issues surrounding the Common Core. Common Core are standards that define what all student are expected to know and be able to do, these standards focus on what is most essential. They do not tell us how teachers should teach but it will be anew way of teaching which moves away from the test and drill mentality of the past.
Heather Gage: Director of the Division of Instruction at the New Hampshire Dept. of Education.
Laura Hainey: President American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire
Paul Peterson: Director of the Harvard University program on education policy, editor-in-chief of the journal called Education Next, and author of the forthcoming book, Endangering Prosperity: a Global View of the American School.
Everyone agreed that we need to move away from the standardized testing created by No Child Left Behind. NCLB is failing our children and creating a situation where children are being drilled to pass standardized tests, and does not promote a true learning experience.
One of the biggest points in this discussions is the fact that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have serious concerns over high stakes testing that are attached to the Common Core. Laura Hainey President of AFT-NH talked about how there needs to be more time to evaluate the Common Core standards. Teachers need time to unpack the standards and fully understand them.
Laura Hainey told the NH Labor News:
“Common core standards will lead to critical thinking, problem solving, apply knowledge and teamwork– compare to what we have now rote memorization and endless test taking but we need to give the teachers the time, resource and tools to unpack these standard and fully understand them.”
AFT and AFT-NH agree to the principles laid out by the Common Core standards because unlike NCLB, teachers were involved in developing these standards that have been adopted by 45 states.
Recently AFT conducted a poll where they found 75% support common core standards. After the standards were adopted there was an immediate push to use this to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Though a recent AFT survey found that “74% (of teachers) are worried that the new assessments will begin—and students, teachers and schools will be held accountable for the results—before everyone involved understands the new standards and before instruction has been fully implemented with a rich curriculum”. This is why AFT has called for a moratorium on teacher and student evaluations based on Common Core.
“The momentum is building to step on the accelerator of quality implementation, and put the brakes on the stakes,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Teachers everywhere are speaking out. They know these standards can transform teaching and learning. But for that to happen, they need the necessary tools and resources to effectively teach the new standards.”
Teacher’s lack of access to the tools and resources to implement the common core standards is the biggest problem right now.
- 27% of the teachers polled said their school district has provided them with all or most of the resources and tools they need to successfully teach the standards, leaving 73% without the necessary tools and resources.
- 78% of teachers in low-performing schools said they have been given just some, few or no resources.
Until teachers are given the proper resources and time to unpack and understand the standards they cannot effectively do their jobs. We need to take this implementation slowly and ensure that it is done correctly. We need to be patient and make sure it is done correctly.