Steven Weber

Superintendent or Asst Super

Fayetteville, AR

Interests: Curriculum design and...

  • Posted 5 Years ago
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Common Core State Standards: Not Just Promises to Our Children

"These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business.  They are a call to take the next step.  It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms.  It is time to recognize that standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep" (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Introduction, p. 5).

Back-to-school takes on a new meaning in 2012-2013.  Many states will implement the Common Core State Standards. As the quote above mentions, standards are not new in K-12 education.  In 1994, Dr. Andrew Porter wrote, "Almost no one believes that standard setting in and of itself will lead to school improvement. Direct efforts at school improvement, such as strengthening the teacher corps and improving curriculum materials, need to follow" (p. 446).  It is important to remember that implementing the Common Core State Standards will require ongoing professional development, risk taking, communication, and a mindset of College and Career Readiness for all students.  As Dr. Porter wrote in 1994, the implementation of standards will not change teaching and learning in the United States.  2012-2013 marks the beginning of a new generation of standards.  Does your school district have an implementation timeline?  How will teachers receive ongoing support as they implement new standards?  How do you plan to measure the implementation process?  What is your district's communication plan for families and stakeholders?  

"Educators must decide if they will work together collectively  and collaboratively to overcome the inevitable barriers they will confront or if they will simply say the task is too hard and the challenges too great  for them to do what they know must be done to support high levels of learning for all students.  Will they expend their energy explaining why it cannot be done in their setting, or will they work together to do it" (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Karhanek, 2010, p. 206). I wish you and your professional learning team the best as we work together to impact the next generation.    

As your school and district staff begin the implementation process, you may benefit from the following resources.

Developing a Common Core Vision
Learning Forward (as published in Education Week)
The standards are not a vision; they define outcomes. When districts and state departments of education take the time to envision what successful standards implementation looks like, it gives them a resource to measure progress, guide actions, and stay on course. 

Common Core for School Leaders
Michael Fisher and Steven Weber
School leaders must create a schedule which allows for continuous improvement, rather than hoping teachers will meet before and after school. The schedule that school administrators create reflects a matter of priorities and curriculum development should be a priority. 

How Will You Prepare to Make Shift Happen in 2012-2013?
Steven Weber
As districts begin implementing the Common Core State Standards, district leaders need to develop processes and short term wins. It is easier to make shifts happen when all stakeholders can see the Big Picture.   


Purposeful Curriculum
Steven Weber
Curriculum Developers should ask these questions in order to create a purposeful curriculum.

Learning Targets
Steven Weber
Learning Targets: Classroom teachers should have a great amount of flexibility when it comes to 'how' to teach key concepts and skills, but 'what' to teach should be clearly defined by the team.  It is unethical to allow some students to 'end up someplace else.' 

The Fear of Failure
Steven Weber
Failure is part of the learning process.  If K-12 schools are going to make the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards, then failure will be part of the implementation process. 

What Are Your Three Circles? 
Steven Weber
Do educators in your school have a Hedgehog Concept? (Jim Collins)  The Three Circles activity may indicate that there are numerous programs and initiatives among buildings in a school district, but many of the initiatives seem to be in conflict with each other.  

Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms. Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step – a key building block – in providing our young people with a high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and work. Of course, standards are not the only thing that is needed for our children’s success, but they provide an accessible roadmap for our teachers, parents, and students. 


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20 Aug 12, 10:23 AM

Steven, thanks for an insightful article with helpful resources.

Although it seems that your intention is to provide aids for teachers, I must take issue with your last paragraph. I don't believe standards are a "key building block, to high-quality education.

I'm offended not by your commentary but by the notion of bureaucrats, who believe they know what skills I should be teaching to my students. Moreover, I'm appalled at the idea of standards as a barometer for goal-setting. Finally, teachers are highly-trained professionals who don't need government intervention to create roadmaps to success or to help their students set attainable goals.

As I state in this blog post, the Common Core is a monster, not at all unlike the standards of NCLB. These so-called standards are a threat to any remaining vestige of a student-centered, progressive approach to education.

As much as your resources are appreciated, I hope teachers will do everything possible to eradicate this abominable attack on teaching and learning by the CCSS.


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20 Aug 12, 04:05 PM

Mark: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy reading your posts and you offer some thought-provoking questions in your articles. I understand that you have concerns about the Common Core State Standards and I respect that. In North Carolina, we no longer have the opportunity to decide if we support the standards. That train has left the station. We are one week away from the first day of school and the standards must be implemented. I must do all that I can to support teachers and administrators during the implementation phase. I don't believe standards are a quick-fix, but I believe that standards are important.

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22 Aug 12, 08:48 PM

An excellent post, Steven. I think Mark speaks a lot of truth in his response. How do writers of any standards document claim to know what is best for the students and teachers we work with every day? It is a challenging question, and in all fairness, many writers probably don't. But, some certainly do, as years of teaching and educational research would likely show. Be that as it may, common standards provide for an intriguing opportunity, one that I am extremely excited for, and one that would likely not happen as frequently if these benchmarks did not exist. For years educators have lamented about the troubles of education in the US, and the disconnect between local, state, and federal education initiatives. Neighboring districts and states organize education in totally different manners, making the opportunity to collaborate (what education should always be about) much more challenging once we leave our buildings and districts. Why should that be? Why can't I effectively plan lessons with a science teacher from Oklahoma or discuss literacy standards with an administrator from Florida? Seems to me that if we truly want to build effective PLNs, we can't afford to alienate others based on geography. It is here, for me, that the Common Core Learning Standards and soon-to-be Next Generation Science Standards have the chance to shine. While I might not agree with what the writers choose to include, I am in full agreement with the vision of increased collaborative opportunities.

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