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How Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

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How Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

Abstract

In as much as the Common Core State Standards are not national standards, but coordinated voluntary efforts among states to set common educational expectations for all students, more and more states are implementing these standards. Nonetheless, there are various concerns and challenges emanating from the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This research explores how teachers and administrators implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools based on the implications and concerns arising from these standards. Major findings were that teachers and administrators apply flexible teaching, attend professional development programs and training, use assistance resources such as online technology and collaborate with colleagues to implement the Common Core State Standards better.

Keywords: Common, teachers, administrators, core, state, standards and schools.

Introduction-how Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

As Reed, Scull, Slicker and Winkler (2012) report, when the state of California became one of the forty-five states to implement the same standards for Math and English in 2010, it formed the foundation for a comprehensive overhaul of its approach to assessment and instruction. In a similar manner, the incorporation of the Common Core State Standards initiative represents what can be termed as the most involving and stakeholder-engaging educational alteration in the K-12 system since the enactment of the No Child Left behind Act of 2001 as Vecellio (2013) denotes. Moreover, while immense research has been conducted on the instructional changes and other elements found defining the Common Core State Standards, there is meager information regarding how teachers and administrators are implementing these standards in K-12 schools given their various concerns. The incorporation of the Common Core State Standards, as well as, the assessments that ascertain the level of understanding of the novel standards pose discordant challenges for administrators and teachers such as proper and adequate preparation of teachers to teach these standards. The existence of these challenges reiterates the need for teachers and administrators to utilize different instruction methods that are yet to be defined nationally (Sawchuk, 2012). Based on this understanding, this research paper will explore how teachers and administrators implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools from the perspective their concerns.

Common Core State Standards and Assessment-how Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

Based on the research by Education Northwest (2010), the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent an inclusive progression of learning expectations in Mathematics and English language arts designed to prepare K-12 students for higher education and subsequent career success. As such, these standards define the skills and knowledge students should possess in their K-12 education, describe end year objectives and expectations, emphasize learning goals and focus on results, thus, giving teachers ample time to determine how to best enable students attain the objectives (Education Northwest¸ 2010). According to Porter et al. (2011), the partnership between the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) yielded the Common Core State Standards in 2009. This outcome marked the shift from dissimilar content standards in Mathematics and Language arts across individual states. The standards also represented another significant shift in the form of focus on digging deeper, resulting in fewer standards compared to previous standards that states adopted and greater discernment of the content (Maloch and Bomer, 2013).

The key features of the Common Core State Standards are reading, that is, text complexity and increase in understanding and writing, that is, responding to reading, text types and research. Other prominent features of the Common Core State Standards include speaking and listening, that is, collaboration and flexible communication, and language, that is, effective use, conventions and vocabulary (Education Northwest¸ 2010). It is vital to note these key features apply to both language arts and Mathematics, particularly those related to fostering understanding and making sense of Mathematical concepts. The formulation of the Common Core State Standards was accompanied by the creation of novel assessments to evaluate students’ understanding of these standards as revealed in the research by Herman, Linn and Moss (2013). The assessments are undertaken and overseen by two consortia, that is, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) and are based on the Common Core State Standards and the capabilities of new technologies.

Implementation of the Common Core State Standards by teachers and administrators-how Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

Practitioners in the education sector point to a system-wide need for professional training and development for administrators, teacher, parents and school board members. This is because there is a concern that there is inadequate professional development when it comes to the Common Core State Standards. In as much as professional development programs offered by both schools and school districts are well-intended and well-designed, many educators consider them as generally inadequate to enable teachers and administrators implement the Common Core State Standards comprehensively. As such, teachers continuously seek hands-on accessible assistance in rethinking their instructional approaches and curricula.

According to McLaughlin, Glaab and Carrasco (2014), most teachers and administrators have relied on local professional development resources in these early stages of CCSS implementation. Typically, teachers are leading content specific trainings for their colleagues from the same schools, different schools and discordant districts to help them better implement the Common Core State Standards. For instance, sessions focusing on collaborative work regarding how to incorporate changes in curriculum and instruction that the Common Core State Standards require and what such alterations would look line in classrooms are common among teachers. Moreover, there is a notable increase in administrator participation in teacher trainings as school leaders seek to acquire additional information regarding the challenges facing teachers in the classroom (McLaughlin, Glaab and Carrasco, 2014).

As vital as professional development sessions and workshops are enabling teachers to implement the Common Core State Standards, additional learning supports and sources of assistance are needed. In this regard, teachers and administrators have integrated technology in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards such as the use of online resources. Nonetheless, the practitioners’ evaluations of the utility of these materials are mixed due to the uncertainty of the quality of online learning modules or training sessions and the challenge of teachers with limited discernment of the Common Core State Standards approaches and goals. All in all, teachers and administrators are making effective use of local resources in their implementation of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools.

A good example provided by McLaughlin, Glaab and Carrasco (2014) is the Silicon Valley school districts that borrow from the expertise of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (SVMI) for training, as well as, strategic assistance and materials. For instance, one district in Silicon Valley requested SVMI’s assistance in administering and scoring three discordant Mathematics Assessment Resource Service assessments, with local teachers volunteering to test five thousand students. Such technological assistance employed by teachers and administrators have proved vital in helping teachers understand the challenges faced by students in K-12 schools when the Common Core State Standards are implemented and what they need to do to improve their implementation approaches.How Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

It is imperative to note that there are certain CCSS implementation issues that are specific to subject area and district configuration. McLaughlin, Glaab and Carrasco (2014) describe these issues as implementation hot spots affecting multiple school districts and they include middle school competencies and curricula otherwise referred to as middle school squeeze, mathematics and the alignment between feeder elementary schools and receiving schools. When it comes to middle squeeze, there is a concern among teachers and administrators that the novel Mathematics curriculum sequence makes them accelerate students so that they can finish calculus and feel challenged while also slowing them down to learn skills that they are yet to encounter such as Mathematical reasoning. Teachers and administrators also fret about the ability of students to manage new language content and expectations given that they are used to learning language in a specific way for almost six to eight years.

The integration and alignment of the Common Core State Standards across feeder elementary school districts is also a concern that stakeholders in the education sector have raised in many parts of the country. This can be attributed to the fact that while some districts are collaborating or form part of the network, others are not collaborating. Thus, the collaborating districts are left holding the bag. Nonetheless, a greater concern evidenced in the responses of teachers and administrators is the contemplation of Mathematics as the Achilles heel of the Common Core State Standards (McLaughlin, Glaab and Carrasco, 2014). Stakeholders, especially parents are concerned that the Mathematics concept in the new standards would slow down the students and not accelerate them in an already competitive college admission setting.

In order to address the concerns about K-12 school squeeze, Mathematics, and integration and alignment, teachers and administrators have committed to continued education through professional development programs and training right from the college education. While the prevailing teachers will get training in the proper implementation of the Common Core State Standards in workshops and professional development programs, prospective K-12 teachers will learn how to better implement these standards right from their college education. This approach is poised to address the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding alignment, Mathematics and K-12 school squeeze.How Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

Teachers need to ensure that each student is prepared for the curriculum based on the expectations of the Common Core State Standards since these standards require them to alter their teaching techniques. In this regard, teachers are no longer teaching to pass the evaluation processes and standardized tests; rather, they are teaching with more freedom to incorporate changes that enable students understand the material. Such flexible ways of teaching enables the teachers to meet the objective of providing the appropriate lessons for the age group in K-12 schools based on the Common Core State Standards that increase students’ attention and level of understanding (Room 241 Team, 2012).

The Common Core State Standards also impact teachers in terms of teamwork and communication between discordant educational levels and age groups. Given that these standards contain more rigorous educational standards than numerous previous educational prerequisites, they require teachers and administrators to work on a plan to aid the students catch up to the novel standards without overwhelming them with information. As such, teachers and administrators in K-12 schools work together to design plans to incorporate additional material without burdening or confusing the students. This intra and inter school collaboration approach has proved useful in helping teachers and administrators implement the Common Core State Standards without overwhelming the students.

Conclusion-how Teachers and Administrators Implement the Common Core State Standards in K-12

There is a concern among stakeholders in the Education sector that there is inadequate professional development when it comes to the Common Core State Standards. Moreover, there are concerns regarding the challenges that come with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards such as K-12 schools squeeze, difficulty in alignment between feeder and receiving schools and novel Mathematical concepts. Nonetheless, teachers and administrators have committed to using discordant techniques and approaches to implementing the Common Core State Standards that address these concerns. Key implementation techniques include flexible teaching, professional development programs and training and workshops, use assistance resources such as online technology, collaboration with teachers and administrators from other K-12 schools and school districts and incorporation of the Common Core State Standards in college education. Despite these existing implementation approaches, additional research is needed in better ways of implementing the Common Core State Standards by teachers and administrators in K-12 schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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