Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Common Core micro-blogathon

The discussion I had on the panel show about the Common Core was interesting, but there were a lot of issues we did not have time to get to. I wanted to write a post here to raise some of those issues, but it turns out that a blog post isn’t large enough either. So I decided to hold a little micro-blogathon, with a stream of shorter posts, starting now. My possibly unrealistic goal is to put up one post every hour for the entire day, just to get these rambling thoughts out of my system. This will be blogging in its truest sense – off the cuff and thinking out loud, all subject to change, with comments and corrections welcome. (My apologies in advance to any commenters – it will probably be hard for me to take part in the comment threads while churning out additional posts.)

The Common Core is a detailed set of standards that is designed to govern what kids should learn—often on a year-by-year basis—throughout their K-12 education. It was developed by a national organization, and is being heavily pushed (though technically not mandated) by the federal government. It is designed to be accompanied by standardized tests that are much more extensive than the tests that have been used until now in Iowa.

Iowa has adopted a set of standards that is closely aligned with the Common Core (by participating in the Common Core, the state agrees not to vary them by more than 15%), but which supplements them with detailed standards in other areas not covered by the Common Core. The state of Iowa requires all local school districts to follow the Iowa Core. Iowa’s Department of Education has also been pushing for the adoption of the Core-aligned standardized tests, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessments, though the legislature has yet to impose them on school districts.

What could be the objections to such a plan? Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Matt Townsley said...

For readers who may not know, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are primarily math and literacy standards. Science, social studies and 21st century skills standards were all authored at the state level and are not necessarily shared with other states in the country.

Iowa currently has a mix of standards that are state specific and standards other states have also voluntarily adopted. All of these standards are collectively referred to as the Iowa Core Essential Concepts and Skills.
-Math: Common Core State Standards (with several additions), **grade-specific
-Literacy: Common Core State Standards (with a few additions) **grade-specific
-Science: state-specific (however, a task force has recommended Iowa adopts the Next Generation -Science Standards), grade bands
-Social Studies: state-specific, grade bands
21st century skills: state-specific, grade bands
A group is currently lobbying fine arts to be included in the Iowa Core Essential Concepts and Skills as well.
**CCSS math standards are broken down by grade level in grades K-8, however they are grouped together as one 9-12 grade band. CCSS literacy standards are broken down by grade level in grades K-8, however 9-10 and 11-12 are grouped together as grade bands rather than by individual grades.