Michael Marzano


Chicago, IL

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 6 Years ago
  • 1.6k

High Expectations & Common Core

            Since the beginning of my teacher training, I was told that the Illinois State Standards were lacking.  Not even insufficient, but vague and with little rigor in what I should have expected from my students.  Luckily, we have been using the College Readiness Standards for science in our classroom to monitor skills, and roughly structured our Environmental Science curriculum around PSAE standards.  While these have been helpful in modeling our instruction and content, I believe they are still lacking in specific focus, rigor, and appropriateness to grade level.  This is why I have, for the last two years, been a strong proponent of national standards that would do away with poorly structured, low expectations, and politically driven curriculum standards every state has lamely thrust upon their education system.  The fingers have been pointing in many directions, from teachers to funding to Facebook, for the decreasing success of secondary education.  I have consistently emphasized that without accountability and standards voicing high expectations, our students won’t possess the drive we want from them in achievement.

            The common core standards, while not perfect, are a manifestation of this belief that states do not have the ability to develop highly rigorous or effective standards, and that our country should be unified and aligned in our secondary teaching.  Especially considering that students will be pushed forward from current expectations from K-12.  Though we won’t see the results in our high school for almost a decade, I am glad to have a more rigorous standard to hold my students to.  Sadly, there is no science common core, and we have once again been asked to utilize both the reading and math instead of a specified science standard.  While science incorporates all subjects of study, reading and math especially, there are many scientific skills and methods of thought that will be left out of these modern standards.  I am hopeful that one day they do develop science common core standards, and have heard conflicting evidence that they are on the way, however I can take solace in the fact that our students will be once again asked to push their zone of proximal development instead of remaining simply in their comfort zones.


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20 Jul 12, 12:21 PM

Michael, you say that "without accountability and standards voicing high expectations, our students won’t possess the drive we want from them in achievement." With all due respect, this is the sort of flawed thinking that makes bureaucrats and the publishing lobby believe they should decide what's best for American education. 

You use the word "drive," which I assume you equate to motivation. If you read Daniel Pink, Alfie Kohn or Carol Dweck, you'll find that standards and accountability have very little to do with driving our students to achieve.

If teachers want to drive students, they need to provide engaging learning opportunities and tap into students' intrinsic motivation. Education should be a conversation between students and teachers. We need to provide students with the tools and opportunities that will help them become independent learners.

Experienced teachers don't need standards to do this. I taught for a decade before NCLB and government interference in education, and our students achieved at far higher rates then than they do now.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


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20 Jul 12, 06:13 PM

Mark, thank you for your comment. In fact, intrinsic motivation and having a conversation between the teacher and student are exactly what my other blog post, Education Aims through Motivation (http://edge.ascd.org/_Education-Aims-through-Motivation/blog/6232847/127586.html), is about. Secondly, part of what I communicate to my students is how much I expect of them, but to officially connect that to curriculum is something a lot of people don't know how to do. I'm glad your experience has lent itself to your instruction, but many teachers are more permissive, and may not have the comparison of what high achievement looks like. Just a thought, and thanks again for sharing yours.

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18 Jul 12, 07:43 PM

Michael, A great blog.  Well done. Your comment, “I am glad to have a more rigorous standard to hold my students to“ is a powerful statement about how seriously you taking the teaching of science.  We all look forward to the implementation of not only the science common core standards, but the other academic areas as well.  Stay tuned, as they say.


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