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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Common Core State Standards: Eveyone Contributes to the Larger Cause

Common Core State Standards: Eveyone Contributes to the Larger Cause

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It’s that time of year again when everyone winds down a little bit to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends and rest from the demands of our daily work as educators. One of my favorite movies of all time is the seasonal and timeless It’s a Wonderful Life. The positive messages of dreams, goals, hard work, relationships and the power of collective action are truly inspiring. As everyone knows, the grand finale of It’s a Wonderful Life demonstrates the power of collective action. George Bailey is saved from economic ruin and personal despair because everyone in the community contributes just a little bit to a larger cause. I always find that scene incredibly moving and trust me I’ve seen that scene a lot! After a busy semester, I am deeply immersed in my own professional reflection of change, curriculum and professional learning teams. I can’t help make the connection to the power of collective action and the changes that are occurring in our schools and country right now. Regardless of the imperfections in our public education system, we must look positively at changes as opportunities. It is the mindset we must cultivate if we want to move forward. Right now, we have a wonderful opportunity to create anew with the Common Core State Standards. To do this we must set aside our skepticism and weariness and focus intently on what we want for all of our students and then set forth to work uncompromisingly and collectively toward shared goals. If everyone makes a commitment to contribute just a little bit to this larger cause great things will happen- maybe even miracles. Just like George Bailey had his challenges, we have our challenges. But, in the midst of all that we must remember that we are standing in the middle of a wonderful opportunity, provided we all have “enough brains to climb aboard”! Enjoy this holiday season and we will see you in 2011 for the best year yet!

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Bob Charles's picture
Bob Charles
I am in search of definitions for "Quality Eduction" and "Great School".

I am a little disappointed that the core standards are not individually applied. Please correct me if I am wrong.

It is the 21st century. We have or can develop ways to measure individual capacity to achieve all these standards. With that, a student's success is measured against their own capability. Even if they can not clear the "bar."

Please excuse my dated language: With individual assessments and core standards, a student with an IQ of 85 can perform excellently (near their capacity). And a student with an IQ of 130 can perform average (average progress toward their capacity). In the one standard for all - The IQ 85 is going to fail and the IQ 130 is going to be excellent. This cheats both.

"..we cannot narrow the college-ready focus of the standards to just preparation of students for college algebra and English composition and therefore will seek to ensure all students are prepared for all entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses in English, mathematics, the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities." 1

What about sports, foreign language, music, arts ... everything not in the core standards that are essential to an education? How are they incorporated? Where is the time to do it?

In Ohio we have similar core standards. The state only pays a minimum for them and it is up to the local community to supply the non-standard activities. A district that does not include the non-standard activities are considered woefully inadequate.

"Measureable: Student attainment of the standards should be observable and verifiable and the standards can be used to develop broader assessment frameworks" 1

The core standards have set a "higher bar". But all students have different capacity to meet the standards. Ohio's 12 grade graduation test was dumped because it was not achievable by enough students. Now they use the 10th grade test. What happens to the high performing students? They are capable of meeting these standards early. Then what do they do?

Comparisons with other countries
I really believe our current public education model is working near the best it can. Our schools educate everyone; we have a very diverse population, many 1st generation; we teach a much greater diversity of subject matter than most other top performing counties; our teachers are the best prepared. Again, only assessment of student based on individual capacity would show this success.

[1] Reference: Common Core State Standards Initiative Standards-Setting Criteria

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