For more than 10 years, schools in the state of Kansas have followed instructional standards that were approved by the federal government as part of what the public has come to know as “No Child Left Behind.”
Teachers have worked hard to annually increase the percentage of students performing at or above “meets standard” level on reading and math state assessments. Teachers in Hillsboro responded well to this challenge, but are now transitioning to a new set of instructional guidelines called the “Common Core Standards.”
The development of the Common Core Standards was initiated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The federal government did not draft the standards, but it needed to approve their implementation as adequately meeting the educational needs of the nation’s students to continue providing funds.
The goal of the Common Core Standards is to prepare students for attending college or beginning a career. Whereas the focus of the state standards became somewhat narrow over time—largely because of how students were expected to correctly answer specific indicators—the Common Core Standards outline broader student performances and encourage application.
State assessments will change greatly during the next two years to check for a deeper understanding of concepts.
A brief comparison of an old and a new standard from grade five demonstrates how classroom instruction may shift. While the skill of “retelling main ideas or events” is an important skill for students to master, the new standard describes a deeper understanding in order to “summarize.” The new standard recognizes how information in our society is shared.
• Under the old state assessment standard: The student retells main ideas or events as well as supporting details in appropriate-level narrative, expository, technical and persuasive texts.
• Under the new Common Core Standard: The student summarizes a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively and orally.
It is the intention of the USD 410 administration to provide monthly articles throughout the school year to inform patrons about how practices will change as we progress to full implementation of the Common Core Standards.
Greg Brown is middle school principal and curriculum coordinator for USD 410.