Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Deconstructing CCSS -- Two Questions?

Dear Colleagues:

The CCSS development criteria state that the standards be "Clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to do to help students learn." 

Question 1: Why are state leaders, curriculum specialists, and teachers deconstructing them if they were deemed by the developers to have met the "Clear" criterion? 

Question 2: Would standards deconstructed by individual teachers over 40 states lead to different understandings of the original "CCSS standards" that are intended to meet another development criterion: to be "Consistent across all states, so that students are not taught to a lower standard just because of where they live?"

Start-Up. Given the immediate need to implement CCSS, I believe time would be better spent by teachers designing, pilot-testing, and constantly improving instructional practices that result in improved student demonstrations of the standards as adopted. This is where creativity shows up in teaching and in student products and performances that meet and surpass the intent of the standards. 

Support. This start-up focus would guide state and local officials, subject matter experts, and professional developers to support teachers as instructional leaders as they network with colleagues in classrooms across state lines to answer the essential question for our profession:

"What teaching practices in my classroom lead to 
improved student learning on specific CCSS standards?" 

Source for Development Criteria:

1 comment:

Sheron Brown said...

Hi Nicholas, thanks for your feedback. It's just what I asked for. Yes, you are absolutely correct about the standards being written for teachers to have clarity. Let me tell you what I experienced on my journey. Teachers would read them, say they are great, sit down to plan with them and say, "what do I do now?" I would also see teachers take an entire standard and plop "Students will be able to" in front of the standard. So it would look something like this on the board: SWBAT analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new. (That's RL.8.9.) Now you and I both know that throwing that up on the board on day 1 won't work. The teacher has to build the students up to that point, and this is where I saw teachers get stuck. The didn't know how to build the the students up to the point of the standard. This is the reason why I created The Core Deconstructed. I saw teacher after teacher get stuck and wanted to help them get unstuck.

I also agree that teachers should spend time designing assessments, but here's the thing I saw again since I've been helping teachers with the standards since 2010: because they had a difficult time with gaining the conceptual understanding within the standard and because they had a challenge with the notion of disciplinary thinking, designing quality and aligned assessments were challenging. I saw assessment questions that were not tightly aligned with the standards. I saw teachers fall back on old understanding to apply to new standards--and I'm not blaming them, but I do understand them. I saw an eighth grade teacher take the same standard I mentioned above, and design a task to have students rewrite Romeo and Juliet in modern day language believing he was assessing the standard. So Nicholas, I agree that teachers should spend time designing standards. I also believe that they should be firm in their understanding of them first.

The concern about inconsistency is a valid one. The process allows for creativity in how the teacher goes about teaching the standard, not how they understand it. The process calls on teachers to consider the teaching methods most appropriate for delivery while they are deconstructing. The process also allows teachers to break out of the cookie-cutter mold to gain a deeper understanding of the standard and make professional decisions on how to teach what I like to call, 'the fullness of the standard."

I’ve led educators through this process–both novices and veterans–and the result is the same every time. They have a better understanding of the standard, a clearer picture of how to teach conceptually, and they have a better picture of how the conceptual understanding within college and career ready standard advances across the grade levels. They even know what to considered for pre and post unit assessments. It’s not like any process that they’ve experienced before.

Teaching methods, assessments, 21st century resources...they are all needed, because everyone is learning in this era.

Thanks for your comment. I enjoy explaining The Core Deconstructed.