Indiana’s Common Core Standards – Two Myths Debunked

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet an incredibly dedicated group of Hoosier educators and administrators that are committed to helping Indiana effectively implement the Common Core. The Educator Leader Cadre is made up of teachers, administrators, and representatives from higher education who have volunteered to become our “information providers” regarding Indiana’s Common Core Standards (INCC) and the PARCC test. During our discussions, two prevailing myths surrounding the Common Core surfaced. In keeping with the INCC’s emphasis on finding text-based evidence, I made it my mission to do some fact- finding regarding these myths. Now, I am armed with information when people in the grocery store approach me and ask questions about INCC. Later, I realized how many literacy standards I, myself, used throughout the process. What a wonderful example of how Indiana’s Common Core Standards really do prepare students to be college and career ready!

Myth #1: The Common Core Standards are a ploy by the federal government to nationalize education. 

Fact: The federal government was not involved in the collaborative effort that created the standards. The Common Core Standards were developed through the joint efforts of the National Governor’s Association Center (NGA Council), the Council of State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Education Association (NEA), Achieve Inc, ACT, College Board, and a Standards Development Work Group comprised of teachers as well as education and business leaders. The fact that people from different states, political affiliations, and career backgrounds agreed on a set of standards is really a miracle! In addition, the standards outline “what” skills students need, but they will not tell me “how” to teach. The National Education Association recently announced their commitment to Common Core by highlighting a similar theme. “NEA believes that this work on Common Standards has the potential to provide teachers with more manageable curriculum goals. Their broadness allows teachers to exercise professional judgment in planning instruction that promotes student success.” (http://www.nea.org/home/46665.htm) I can implement INCC in my classroom and still enjoy the “art” of teaching!

Myth #2: Indiana’s Academic Standards are superior to the INCC.

Fact: No doubt, our existing standards are impressive. However, INCC will take our already-strong standards to a higher level due to the emphasis on text complexity and math coherency. When looking at the standards, some people get confused because they just compare the number of standards. To truly understand the rigor of INCC, we must analyze them and visualize how they will transform the classroom. I see the INCC as an avenue for teaching students how to think critically. To be prepared for the 21st Century, our students do not need to memorize information because technology already puts the facts at their fingertips. Instead, they must learn how to read multiple perspectives, evaluate the validity of the statements, and then formulate their own opinions. 

I would encourage all of you to do the same with information surrounding INCC. Take the time to analyze the arguments of all the voices, justify the validity of the information, and formulate your opinion based on the facts. I, personally, am energized by the changes I have already made in response to the INCC because I feel like I am better preparing my students for the future.

 

Celebrating Teachers at the State Fair

Did you know Governor Mitch Daniels signed a proclamation declaring Saturday, August 18th, 2012 “Celebrate Teaching Day” in Indiana? How fitting that the proclamation was read at the first Celebrate Teaching event at the Indiana State Fair. Thanks to donations from CELL, Dyknow, the Indiana State Fair, and a host of incredible Indiana Department of Education volunteers, educators from all over the state were honored at this special event.

While at the fair, I reflected on the many nights my husband and I have stayed up late helping our children put the finishing touches on their 4-H projects. When they submit their final products, the extra effort pays off because they know they are submitting their personal best work. As I talked about this scenario, I realized that one of the most difficult aspects of being a teacher is the reality that we never really see a “finished product.” We also stay up late at night, but we certainly don’t do it for a blue ribbon reward. In fact, we spend so much time celebrating the successes of our students that we often forget the role we played in helping them achieve their goals. Because our reward comes from having the faith that we are making a difference in our student’s lives, I know teachers do not expect to be celebrated. However, I have made it my mission to use this year to bring recognition to the teachers who are too humble to celebrate themselves.

I encourage you to visit my website at http://www.celebrateteaching.info to read about this initiative. I want to visit classrooms and help students develop a voice of appreciation for the educators who work with them every day.  I think our society needs to be reminded to say, “thank you” to the people who impact our future. I hope you will join me as we develop an “attitude of gratitude” for our incredible Hoosier educators.