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What teachers know about the Common Core

FRIDAY, MAY 02, 2014 10:23 AM

Now 44 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), though schools are still figuring out the best strategies for meeting these goals. States have to design their own curricula around the Standards, and teachers still have control over their lesson plans, so educators have to tweak their approach. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) has been studying CCSS and its use in New York City schools since 2010 to see just how well teachers and administrators are implementing the Standards in the classroom, as well as the kinds of challenges that arise from doing so. Their latest report, issued in March 2014, reviewed just how much teachers understand about the Standards.

Challenges of the Common Core
The report noted that changing the education system to better prepare students for their futures is a challenge that's been tackled from the outside in, for the most part. Districts offered programs that incentivized teachers to help their students improve test scores, for example. However, the CPRE notes that since the introduction of the Common Core, New York City schools have done a good job of revitalizing the education system from the inside out. These districts have tried to help teachers engage with the CCSS and find ways to make the Standards fit classroom realities.

Assessing educator knowledge
The CPRE investigations assessed how much information teachers, administrators and coaches had about the CCSS by way of administering a test and survey. The group reported that teachers in general had a better grasp on English/language arts (ELA) Standards than mathematics Standards. Additionally, coaches and administrators outperformed teachers in tests that assessed knowledge of both areas. They also were more likely than teachers to seek additional resources on the Common Core from sources outside of schools. 

The results are rather interesting, as they seem to indicate that teachers still need more assistance with understanding and preparing for the Common Core. In the past (at least in New York City Schools), educators may not have gotten the support they required. 

Helping to prepare teachers
Students across the country are currently taking assessments that will measure their absorption of Common Core-aligned content. Ideally, those tests will become a resource for all educators, indicating whether or not students have gained the knowledge they need. Exam results should also point toward subjects and topics where teachers can improve their lessons. 

Even without assessments, teachers can find the support they need to fully understand the Standards. For starters, teachers can ask their districts for help. They can also visit the Common Core website, which features basic overviews and the complete Standards outline.