Teacher Voice

Teachers Believe More Autonomy and Support Will Help Common Core Succeed

A report issued today by a teacher collaborative reinforced educators’ support of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and aligned assessments. In addition, the educators generally believe the initiative will improve student learning and teacher practice when educators are given the autonomy and support to implement the standards coherently. The report, released by The VIVA Project in partnership with Education Post at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar, highlights feedback and recommendations from teachers across the country about CCSS implementation and best practices. Teachers in 43 states have been using the K-12 standards in math and English for several years, and while this report found that teachers are supportive of this effort, questions still remain. Education Post partnered with The VIVA Project to conduct a VIVA Idea Exchange™—an innovative online process developed by The VIVA Project that combines cutting edge crowd-sourcing methods with the best individual engagement strategies. Through this facilitated discussion process, a conversation among 125 teachers across the country about the implementation of the CCSS was distilled into the report by a smaller group of participating teachers. The Idea Exchange report includes a number of specific recommendations within four key areas:
  1. Conflation of the definitions of standards and curriculum has led to confusion and unwarranted criticisms of the CCSS. Teachers strongly support the CCSS because it’s good for their students and their profession and does not dictate curriculum. The CCSS is the best way for teachers to support their students in reaching high expectations AND allowing teachers to teach content more thoroughly.○ Sample recommendation: Enlist teachers and administrators to educate parents, families, politicians, and community members about the difference between the CCSS and curricula.
  2. Parents and communities need to be engaged and much better informed about the CCSS, how they are being implemented, and how this effort supports student learning.○ Sample recommendation: Initiate monthly “Family Universities” at schools to teach parents about topics such as math content with new strategies” and the transition to high school.
  3. Professional development that is ongoing, teacher-led and embedded in practice is essential to successful implementation of the standards.○ Sample recommendation: Develop opportunities for cross-school and cross-district learning to allow a more coherent approach to teacher learning.
  4. Student assessments are crucial and valuable, but should be more purposeful and less frequent.○ Sample recommendation: Be clear about the purpose of each assessment, so parents, teachers, students, and all stakeholders understand whether the assessment is aimed at student learning or school accountability.
“The VIVA Idea Exchange is unique because it brings teacher voices and experience into the decision-making process with education leaders,” said Mark Anderson, a special education teacher at Jonas Bronck Academy (Bronx, NY) and one of the writers of the report. “Decisions made without the perspectives of those working in the field each and every day are short-sighted decisions. This Idea Exchange is invaluable because it reflects the voices of a multitude of teachers about a reform effort that can impact daily instructional decisions and student learning.” Peter Cunningham, executive director of Education Post, said the report will be a powerful tool to ensure teachers have a voice in shaping the improvements needed to successfully integrate Common Core in classrooms across the nation. Education Post will continue to elevate these teacher perspectives in online posts and meetings with education leaders. “So much is riding on Common Core succeeding, and so much of that success rests on the shoulders of teachers,” Cunningham said. “It’s clear teachers don’t want to move backwards to a time when the bar was intentionally set low, so it’s important to learn from teachers on what it will take to make these standards work.” Added Paul Toner, president of The VIVA Project: “The VIVA Idea Exchange harnesses teachers’ knowledge and experience to provide policymakers and others with real-time, real-world feedback. Unfortunately, teachers often aren’t at the table when education initiatives are being created. Moving forward teachers’ voices should be one of the first considerations given they are responsible for teaching our children.” To download the full report, and learn more about how CCSS is being implemented in classrooms visit this page.
The VIVA Project plumbs the collective wisdom of committed people with frontline experience in education and turns their expertise into recommendations for building a better, fairer and more productive education system for all of America’s children. Find out more at www.vivateachers.org.
Tracy Dell’Angela
Tracy Dell’Angela is a writer, education nonprofit executive director and a mom passionate about education improvements. Previously, Tracy was Director of Outreach and Communications for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. She came to IES from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, which produces research that ...

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