By Amanda Stupi
As the Common Core State Standards are rolled out around the country, parents and teachers are starting to piece together how it could change the way things are done in school. So far, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, though some states are backing away.
Some educators are looking forward to incorporating the new standards, encouraged by what they consider to be a higher level of rigor, but others believe big questions must be addressed before the standards are adopted. KQED’s Forum dove into the subject recently.
“I think we’re really moving in the right direction. We’re actually expecting students to think, talk about their thinking and analyze their thinking,” said one Bay Area elementary school teacher who called in.
But she and others believe the heavy focus on assessments is too early at this point in the process.
“The problem is, just like everything in education, we’re putting the cart before the horse with assessments,” she said. “Instead of spending our time training teachers on how to do this well, we’re spending our time trying to develop ways to measure this way of teaching that we haven’t even been trained how to do and haven’t even been able to pilot yet.”
Some teachers argue that testing students (and likely, teacher performance) before educators have been adequately trained on the new system is unfair and that assessing the efficacy of Common Core is taking precedence over training teachers to implement it well.
Alice Mercer, a sixth-grade teacher at Bancroft Elementary School in Sacramento, agreed: “My concern is that a lot of this revolving around testing rather than the instruction at this point.”
Mercer is also concerned that educators are not being adequately trained on how to implement the new standards.
““The majority of [teachers in my school] have not been to a single Common Core training so far,” Mercer said.
Though the standards themselves may provide a common set of criteria for students, there’s no common training to learn about its implementation, other educators said.
“Some of the best and brightest teachers from my school have been putting together Common Core trainings but there’s no manual, there’s no specific program that has been developed learn how to get all of done,” said a history teacher who called in during the show.
And when it comes to tech integration, critics believe schools are investing in technologies that will only be used as testing tools, and gloss over their true potential for learning, a common criticism of profit-driven companies overshadowing the need for better learning outcomes.
“We do not want all of these iPads and all of this investment in technology that’s going to be happening over the next year, to be turning these devices into glorified test booklets,” wrote Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the Education Trust-West in a tweet. “These are powerful instruments that can really also accelerate student learning, especially for students who are behind.”
Listen to the show here: