James Balesco in Flight of the Buffalo said, “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” This is a struggle I believe many of our great states in America are facing. The three articles reviewed in this reflection focus on this change of state curriculum to the CCSS at slightly different angles. The scope of each article however is common in their tone for devising a plan to implement the CCSS affectively.
States’ Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core State Standards was an overview of a survey given to states who agreed to adopt the CCSS (Center on Education Policy 1). Many times, a high stakes reader may wonder what the results of his own state were when reading the report. The CEP tried to keep results as secret as possible to receive much more true and “frank” responses from state representatives answering the survey (1). This makes the read of this survey blunt with great results as a nation, but inadequate foresight for a teacher in a specific state.
Some of the highlights of this article pointed to the differences in states reaction to the CCSS who received RttT, Race to the Top, funding when separated from other states. Many of these states receiving RttT funding didn’t expect financial burden in implementing the CCSS throughout the state (2). With this lack of financial burden, 10 of the 11 states receiving RttT plan to devise new teacher evaluation programs that hold teachers accountable for teaching the CCSS appropriately (6). Overall, it seems as if the RttT states are expecting to utilize the CCSS to help meet guidelines of their federal funding (2). These states plan to meet goals faster and with more emphasis of student and teacher rigor than their counterparts.
As states are adopting the CCSS on a purely voluntary basis, it would be interesting to note that survey results showed 31 of the 37 states citing their change to the CCSS was partially based on the attempt to gain RttT funding (4). Though more states cited more rigorous standards and educational improvement as considerations for adoption of the CCSS, money could be a key factor for many states.
Other interesting results of the state surveys point to the fact that states are not requiring districts to make complementary changes in curriculum and teacher programs (2). The CBMS, Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, has published a white paper on the recommendations of content based professional development from a forum of participants having stakes in education. This paper suggests that efforts should be placed not only on the enrichment of content in mathematical courses at the post secondary local level, but also teaching methods (CBMS 8-9). There suggestions are also geared not only toward teachers, but administrators and parents in regards to helping teach the development of a mathematical minded person (9). The forum emphasizes the fact that teachers are to train students to have the characteristics of a mathematical minded person. There is never a real definition given for this, but it is implied that they are referring to creativity in problem solving and logic based on facts. Other implications on a larger scale emphasize professional development that is not redundant (10). This has already been seen at professional meetings regarding the CCSS-M in Alabama at local and state levels.
One of the more interesting lines from the forum states that teacher turnover should be addressed if large scaled professional development and higher education overhauls will be implemented (CEP 11). Teacher turnover is something that will be hard for anyone to address adequately. Many teachers don’t leave the profession because of pay or benefits. They leave the job because of difficulty in obtaining excellence in teaching, large amounts of work hours, tedious paper work, and high stakes monitoring which none of which will ever be addressed. My favorite line of all three articles says that, “…statisticians who are involved in mathematics education should be appropriately rewarded by their departments for these contributions” (16). This would require a pay scale restructure in Alabama that recognizes contributions of individuals who have specialized in their teaching content area. The forum presented excellent ideas for persons involved with education to consider and heed.
State surveys by the CEP pointed to possible challenges in “creating a seamless system of education from elementary school through college” (5). A national change in benchmarking of student learning with no normalized results is rather scary. Results from the state survey suggest that this is one of the areas most states have no control over and are not sure of how will be addressed (9). The Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, SMTI, prepared a white paper to deal with the issue of higher education’s role in national adoption of the CCSS.
The SMTI focuses largely in the area of educating current and future teachers, conducting research related to the CCSS, and actions other facets of education may help higher education in CCSS implementation. SMTI believes that teacher preparation in content level mathematics is currently inadequate to serve students, especially at the elementary level. They suggest programs such as the TLC to mentor teachers into content proficiency (TSMI 2-3). Auburn University in Alabama has developed similar programs to improve these deficiencies in elementary and secondary education such as the Teacher Leader Academy and TEAM-math. These programs could be drawn upon in the future to further develop teachers in relationship to the CCSS-M.
The role of higher education is an important partner to p-12 educators and should be fostered and encouraged by relative states (5-6). These excellent venues for teachers increase teaching and content literacy and have direct causation to student learning. SMTI poses research by higher education is needed on teacher preparation and should be conducted to validate teacher preparation procedures (4-5). They also stress data collection to validate assessments to the CCSS. Ongoing research by higher education relative to the CCSS will be essential to monitor proper implementation and assessment. The SMTI creates excellent action plans for different identities of the higher education and education professionals. Notable actions for disciplinary departments include ensuring support for currently teaching professionals and ensuring teachers “have the content background needed to support students’ progress” in meeting the CCSS” (8). Importantly, they encourage curriculum and assessment developers to use IHE and k-12 educations in the development, validation, and assessment of CCSS related products (9).
Such a large change in curriculum for the entire nation is a very large undertaking. All aspects of education will have to be revised from higher education to elementary and assessment to instruction. Successful implementation of the CCSS will take all persons with stakes in education working together informally and formally. This is a great time for our nation to make one of the most precedent changes in educational history. How the educational community handles this undertaken will affect children’s lives forever and should not be taken lightly.
Kober, N., Rentmer, D., & Center on Education, P. (2011) State’s Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core State Standards. Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (2011). Common standards and the mathematical education of teachers: Recommendations from the October 2010 forum on content-based professional development. Washington, D.C.: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences.
Science, and Mathematics Teacher Imperative/ The Leadership Collaborative (2011). Common core state standards and teacher preparation: The role of higher education a discussion draft by the SMTI/TLC working group on common core state standards.