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December 18, 2012
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News for the Education Profession

ASCD Special Report: Common Core -- Now what?
Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts are coming to schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia while schools in Minnesota are welcoming just the English standards. The change has brought excitement and anxiety to classrooms.

In this ASCD Special Report, we look at what happens now. The shift to the common core requires curriculum changes to implement but also calls on educators to evolve in their teaching as they make the transition.

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  In the Classroom 
  • Are common core math standards too demanding?
    The Common Core State Standards in math focus on students developing a deeper understanding of math concepts and learning alternative strategies to problem solving. However, this shift raises questions about whether elementary-school students in particular are being asked to grasp too much math theory at the expense of acquiring basic problem-solving skills. Teacher and writer Barry Garelick writes in this article he is hopeful teachers will be able to adjust the standards to fit the students' abilities as the common core becomes the established curriculum at schools across the country. The Atlantic online (11/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • School-computer guidelines for common core released
    The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has released guidelines for school computers, tablets and other devices that will be used for online testing under the Common Core State Standards. Under the guidelines, devices must have 10-inch screens, a keyboard, Internet access and the ability to disable certain functions that could be used for cheating during assessments. As schools and districts work to implement the common core, some have questioned whether school computers and technology will be able to meet expectations. The Hechinger Report/Digital blog (12/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Bringing close reading into the classroom
    The Common Core State Standards require elementary students to read at an in-depth level, through the thorough examination of meaning of the text's individual words and sentences, writes veteran educator and author Nancy Boyles. She offers three practices for incorporating close reading into the classroom of even the youngest readers. Critical of questions that have one answer, Boyles explains how to teach students to ask deeper questions. Educational Leadership (12/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • School reports higher achievement under common core
    At an elementary school in Chicago that enrolls primarily low-income students, achievement has improved 16 points on state exams since the school began piloting the Common Core State Standards three years ago. A small number of Chicago schools are using the common core this year, with district officials acknowledging that test scores are expected to drop sharply with the more rigorous standards. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said lower scores could be a "death sentence" for teachers' careers and schools because evaluations depend on student test performance. The Huffington Post (12/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
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  What Changes? 
  • Switching to the common core
    Teachers need to have a full understanding of the Common Core State Standards if they are to properly implement them in the classroom, writes Sandra Alberti, director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development for Student Achievement Partners. In English language arts, this means, three shifts, one of which is a greater focus on building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction, besides literature, Alberti writes. For math, it means a shift to a deeper focus on a smaller number of topics and a deeper command of mathematical concepts. Educational Leadership (12/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Does the common core write off fiction?
    The writers of the Common Core State Standards say the standards do not require the elimination of fiction from literature classes. David Coleman, who led the effort to write the standards, said there has been an overreaction to the directive to add more nonfiction material, which he said applies across all school courses -- not just English -- so historical works, studies and other documents can be added to social studies and even math, in an effort to prepare students for college and careers. The Washington Post (12/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • What should teachers expect from the common core?
    Teachers should prepare for -- but not panic over -- a likely dip in students' test scores under the more rigorous Common Core State Standards, writes Rae Ann Knopf, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. In this blog post, Knopf writes about what led to the adoption of the common core and details the purpose and potential challenges of the standards. The Huffington Post/The Blog (12/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 4 challenges schools face in common core transition
    There are four main challenges that schools will face as they work to implement the Common Core State Standards, according to a recent report from the Alliance for Excellent Education. They include the need to improve student achievement, reduced budgets for education, effective use of technology and the need for professional development for teachers to ensure they are properly prepared for the common core. T.H.E. Journal (11/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
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  Teaching Evolves 
  • Common core already has urban legends to bust
    Common Core State Standards already have urban legends that need debunking, writes literacy expert Timothy Shanahan. Among the myths are that teachers no longer can draw on students' background knowledge for lessons, Shanahan writes. He also shatters four other myths, including one that says teachers will not be required to teach phonological awareness, phonics or fluency. Educational Leadership (12/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Why teacher collaboration is key to common core
    Teachers need more time to collaborate to implement Common Core State Standards in their classroom, Vicki Phillips of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Robert L. Hughes, president of New Visions for Public Schools, write in this commentary. They describe how two projects use educator teams to develop instructional materials. "Some say working with the collaboratives has been the best professional-development experience of their careers. Teachers tell us that they are covering fewer topics more deeply, and that their students gain a greater understanding of the content," they write. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (12/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Educator: Use the common core as an ingredient, not dinner
    Common Core State Standards should be viewed as an ingredient, not dinner, writes Carol Ann Tomlinson, a professor at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education. Tomlinson writes that standards can lead to powerful curriculum, but they should not become the curriculum. She also borrows an analogy from educator Jay McTighe, who compared the standards to building codes. "They are contemporary building codes -- better suited to the 21st century than many previous sets of building codes. But they're not the buildings," she writes. Educational Leadership (12/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Shift in standards may boost digital resources in schools
    Among the many potential benefits of the Common Core State Standards are a shift toward the greater use of digital technology in schools, education advocate and author Tom Vander Ark writes in this blog post. Because the common core assessments will be administered online, schools may be more inclined to speed up their commitment to getting more technology into the hands of students, Vander Ark suggests. Education Week/Vander Ark on Innovation (11/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Resources to help you dig deeper
Mathematics. Literacy. English language arts. Reinforce your implementation of the CCSS with topic-specific resources designed by Solution Tree experts! Let them guide you through the implementation process with research-based tips and strategies that will go a long way in shaping successful learning outcomes.
  ASCD Resources 

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