My First Days With Full-blown Common Core

by Mercedes Schneider, deutsch29, August 8, 2013

In this post I write about my experience as a traditional public school teacher facing Common Core (CCSS). Before I do so, there are a few statements I must offer.

First, let me be clear that I am writing about my own experiences on my own blog using my own computer and sitting in my own home on my own time.

Second, I teach in a wonderful school for an administration that cares about their students. The atmosphere at my school is one of undeniable support. Our school is a strong community, one that is always seeking to grow. My district has a solid, established reputation statewide.

Third, if I am going to endeavor to teach my students to think critically and to act with conviction, I must first model as much myself.

And now, for my experience with CCSS.

In 2010, I attended my first department meeting in which I was told our district would be phasing out our curriculum and phasing in something called the Common Core. I was told that it would be simpler for having fewer objectives. We were to phase in slowly, with the transition being complete for the 2014-15 school year. I was also told that there would be assessments but that these were not written yet.

This was two years prior to passage of legislation that my job would depend upon student test scores, so that issue was not part of the discussion.

In other meetings, I was told that CCSS required that I teach differently; the example given then was about some new way to do math. I am not sure why this was presented in an English department meeting, but it was.

Last year was our first (and, it turns out, only) transitional year. The curriculum reminded me of moving from one house into a temporary residence on the way to Who Knows Where. Our curriculum specialist tried to help us choose materials for this curriculum in transition. We used what books we had available. This was also the first year that teachers were evaluated using student test scores. I was very aware that I had little control over how my students fared on the End of Course (EOC) test. My goal was to teach; this I kept as my focus.

I learned upon returning to school this week that we were no longer “transitioning.” We were now completely CCSS. This year my students will take EOC; my job this year will be contingent upon EOC; PARCC will begin next year.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been on a crusade for states’ not dropping out of CCSS. Thus, it makes sense to me why John White dropped us in full-blown CCSS a year early: foot in the door. White figures that CCSS is less likely to be dropped in Louisiana if it is already instituted. Wait until the legislature feels the weight of that PARCC price tag. I think we might be following Georgia’s lead.

CCSS is a top-down adoption. Notice how many times the word “told” occurs in this post. Obama and Duncan told states that they must adopt CCSS to be eligible for Race to the Top (RTTT) funding. At the state level, the “collaboration” came after CCSS was established; the word is that CCSS was adopted “with overwhelming support from the public and from educators.” Our district told us what the new material was that I would use for teaching, and they told us that veering from the approved literature would require principal/district approval….

continue reading, with links, at deutsch29

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