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New Education Standards Proving to Be Hard to Implement

The Oregonian article, "Teachers in Oregon, elsewhere feel unready for new, higher standards," covers the issue of the new Common Core State Standards set for what to teach in reading, writing, and math. It brings up many points but doesn't really cover some basic issues and facts.

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/05/teachers_in_oregon...

1. Changing Oregon education is sloooow.

2. The new standards are hard. They will be forced to look at their model of “business as usual.”

3. Administrators like the new standards but they aren’t giving tools (curriculum) to teachers to help them with more difficult to teach students. Administrators are hampered by Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE’s) list of “you can only use one of these 10 or so curriculum.”

4. I hear the new standardized test by Smarter Balance is really hard – harder than the current OAKS (Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills).

5. Of course the curriculum is tied to the standardized test. But get teachers, administrators, and ODE to understand that.

6. You *always* teach to the test. It is called a formative test. These are tests/quizzes that make sure the students are grasping the material currently taught. Summative tests are like the end of year or state standard tests. The formative *should* lead to the summative. But it doesn’t. Big textbook companies want to corner this market by making both the formative tests and the summative tests along with the actual textbooks and curriculum. It’s a nice racket they have.

In Oregon, they are using a rubric to assess if curriculum and teaching are following the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (see http://www.ode.state.or.us/pubs/update/eiiupdatemay2013.pdf):

The rubric includes four dimensions (my comments within each dimension):

Dimension 1:

Alignment to the Depth of the CCSS - Is the lesson aligned to the standards? Does it engage students with the appropriate level of text complexity?

* Aligned with standard means, does the lesson cover items that should be taught and is listed in the standards of what to teach? Does it engage the student? The only way I know to engage students is to:

1. Group according to ability. Fast learners in one group, medium learners in another group, and students that need more repetition, more examples, and more time in another group. This requires more teachers and aids.

2. Ensure students respond. The most efficient (cheapest and fastest) way to do this is by choral responding and individual answering to make sure the students are getting the concept or skill. This falls under formative assessments. Direct Instruction requires both choral responding and grouping.

Dimension 2:

Key Shifts in the CCSS - How does the lesson address the shifts the Common Core requires?

* Well here's a conundrum. Oregon wants to implement standards without the curriculum to teach it. This means that teachers have to create curriculum - within their own time - without the ability to field test - using current students as guinea pigs.

Dimension 3:

Instructional Supports – How is the lesson responive to varied learning needs?

* Direct Instruction solves this by grouping students in the first place. That way fast learners don't get bored and move at their potential, and learners with disabilities get extra help, examples, and smaller groups to ensure they don't get lost or learning doesn't become aversive.

Dimension 4:

Assessment - How does the lesson assess whether students are mastering standards-based content and skills?

* Any curriculum will include formative end of chapter or mid-chapter tests. Also, students will be called out during lessons to ensure they are following along correctly. Unfortunately, the only curriculum that does both with regularity is Direct Instruction.