“There is a lot of NOISE right now about the Common Core Standards…”
Four Minutes of Clarity: click image below to VIEW a timely YouTube PODCAST with Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch, Superintendent of Oakland Schools:
TEXT of PODCAST from Dr. Markavitch:
There is a lot of noise right now about the Common Core Standards – a set of learning standards that more than 40 states have adopted as goals for student learning. They are not a curriculum, not a test, but a target for where many believe U. S. students need to be when they end their K-12 school years.
I have looked at these standards carefully, talked to people who have begun to teach to them, looked at data from pilot programs implementing the standards, and what I see happening is a classroom movement to higher levels of learning. I also see that within these standards much of what we have always taught continues.
I studied Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning a long time ago and the truth of it has persisted over time – the goals for learning need to take students all the way to the higher end of the taxonomy. Learning must go beyond what Bloom called Knowledge – recall of facts; beyond his level of Comprehension – basic understanding. Learning at the higher levels of Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation is critical as we prepare students to work and live into this century and the next. Teachers on the ground, using the Common Core standards as learning targets for their students, report not only improved student learning, but improved student learning at these higher levels.
So why the noise? In my opinion, the groups making the most noise have simply gone off the deep end. We have one group calling these standards a “national conspiracy.” Well, if that is true, it is true in nations all across the globe because these higher level standards are the targets being set for students worldwide. We have another group claiming these standards are a scheme by profiteers looking to make money from public education. While I have been a loud voice against the corporatization of public education, we have to realize that profiteers are already making money from education; they are just making it off of lower level learning standards.
Now, there are also some voices expressing concern over student privacy issues that might be compromised with a multi-state test that creates a multi-state database of student information. This is a concern that I think has merit, but one that is easily fixed – a state could just restrict its student data from moving across its state lines. I would be more concerned that a multi-state test would be misused and abused, just like our statewide tests are right now. Testing is being used for purposes far beyond what it was designed to do, which was to diagnose and analyze student learning so teachers and instructional people could make better decisions around teaching and learning. I have exercised my own voice in asking that we stop misusing student assessments – but keeping students away from higher learning standards is not the way to do that.
So lawmakers, people who by their own admission have not studied the art and science of teaching and learning, people who have not analyzed the learning standards of nations across the world, people who have not struggled to get the best match between what a student needs to learn and how that student can best learn it – these folks now have to make one of schooling’s, most important decisions. Let’s hope they look beyond the noise before deciding what it is our students should be learning.
Blog Editor: Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools
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