Dublin Villager

From the Superintendent's Desk

Increased rigor, not politics, driving Common Core

Wednesday October 16, 2013 11:48 AM

Dublin City Schools staff members have been preparing for the last three years for the full K-12 implementation of the Common Core standards in Ohio in 2014-15. These standards were adopted by the state in 2010.

The Common Core is a set of internationally benchmarked teaching standards designed to help students better prepare for college, careers and competition in the global economy.

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, providing guidance to teachers and parents on how to support students.

The standards are designed to be robust, rigorous, and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

There are several important points about the Common Core I'd like to share with you which I hope can help correct some misinformation circulating not only in our community, but nationally.

Those points include:

* The Common Core mandates specific changes in language arts and math only.

* The language arts portion of the Common Core will feature multiple genres with a focus on informational texts and fact finding.

* The Common Core Math standards place an emphasis on understanding mathematical concepts as well as teaching procedural skills.

* The shift to the CCSS includes an overall increase in rigor. We embrace higher standards and look forward to the challenge of meeting them, but we also recognize there may be some decreases in scores as students and staff adjust to new content and assessments.

* The Common Core will allow teachers to explore fewer subjects in more in-depth ways. This set of standards will provide students with a thorough understanding of key concepts, rather than simply superficially touching on a multitude of concepts.

* The Common Core is NOT a federal government initiative, but a state-led initiative. The governors from 46 states recognized the 21st century mobility of our society demanded a more consistent state-to-state curriculum, along with an increase in content rigor and benchmarks. The governors then facilitated the development of curriculum and assessment plans.

* The Common Core does not provide any government agency with any more personal information about students than standardized testing has required in the past. Student information remains protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In our District, we are continuing the training of teachers this year in order to be ready for a full implementation in 2014-15.

Dublin City Schools High School Language Arts Co-Chairman Steve Kucinski provided an example below of how Common Core will improve the learning of Language Arts students.

"One of the ways that the Common Core State Standards will improve instruction in high school English classrooms is demonstrated in the following standard: 'CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7 -- Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.'

"The essence of this standard involves deep critical thinking and synthesis of ideas -- the ability to compare different works and to identify both how and why they are comparable (including finding specific evidence for this). In the past, this type of activity would have been more likely integrated into an Honors or Advanced Placement level classroom and lesson. The CCSS now provides a focus and emphasis on this type of thinking in all classrooms. Students will benefit from this in terms of being better prepared for the ACT and SAT questions and essays as well as for upper-level classes in high school. Those tests and classes typically require students to be able to think with sophistication as well as to provide textual evidence in order for students to excel."

Karrer Middle School Math Teacher Melanie Anderson explains how Common Core will further students' understanding of mathematical concepts.

"The Common Core State Standards for mathematics emphasize mathematical understanding as opposed to the simple use of mathematical procedures. Embedded in the standards are eight mathematical practices that serve as processes and skills for problem-solving. As a result, students are experiencing math through a more conceptual route while they make applications to real life. Instead of learning topics in isolation, students are able to connect concepts across the years to construct reasoning for the use of multiple pathways to arrive at the same result."

In summary, the implementation of the Common Core is not about politics or the federal government. It is about increased rigor in content learning and expectations, as well as putting our graduates in the best possible positions to be college and career ready in today's global society.

Dublin City School District Superintendent Todd Hoadley, Ph.D., submitted the From the Superintendent's Desk column.

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