Yesterday, in a speech in New York (http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/weingarten043013.cfm), AFT President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on the high stakes decisions attached to Common Core testing, a move I resoundingly support here in Ohio. While OFT remains steadfast and vocal in its support of the Common Core standards, we also remain consistent in fighting for a “safe harbor” period for implementing the standards with fidelity. This transition period would allow districts, teachers, and students to adjust to the new standards without the threat of repercussions.
The Common Core Standards, which according to an AFT membership survey is supported by 75% of members, have the potential to deeply impact student learning. The standards are much more than just a new set of information. They represent a shift in focus on the way information is being taught and learned. The emphasis shifts from a focus on rote memorization and test prep to a focus on problem-solving, analyzing and applying information, and working with others – skills that are required for being college and career ready.
Or at least that is the shift that should take place.
When more emphasis is put on the tests and the punishments attached to those tests than on the actual preparation for and implementation of the standards, the desired results are jeopardized. Our focus for the next three years should be on providing the resources, professional development, and work time needed for successful implementation of the standards.
As President Weingarten states in her speech, we are not asking for an elimination of the tests. We are simply asking for a moratorium on the high-stakes decisions attached to those tests. During this transition period, instead of using the test results (tests that have not yet been developed) to punish teachers and schools for not doing something they haven’t yet been trained to do, use the tests as data tools to inform practice and policy. Use the data to determine if the tests are accurately reflecting the material being taught. Use the data to determine both teacher and student needs in adjusting to these more rigorous standards. Use the data in ways that accelerate achievement rather than denigrate teachers and students.
So what do Ohio teachers need?
– time to unpack the standards and thoroughly understand the changes
– professional development on the instructional shifts necessary for implementing the standards with fidelity
– curriculum resources aligned to the Common Core
– current working technology for students to use for both learning and testing
But you are the teachers. What do you think? Do you feel ready to make the Common Core standards work? Have you had quality professional development? Have you been given the time to align curriculum in your school? What do you need for successful implementation? Leave your comments below.
Don’t stop there though. Share your comments with Secretary Duncan and with State Superintendent Ross also. Click here to send a message http://action.aft.org/c/44/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=6281
Let’s do the Common Core right and make the standards work before we make them count.