CCSSO Leader Rallies Higher Education for Common Core

Precollegiate and postsecondary education have been like toddlers, playing side by side in the sandbox but not together, and they’ve got to start playing together if students are going to be well prepared for college and good jobs.

That was the message that Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, carried to a national forum of K-12 and higher education officials here. The event is aimed at defining how two sectors that haven’t historically worked closely together can collaborate in the interest of turning the new common standards into better teaching and learning. (The CCSSO and the National Governors Association co-led the initiative that resulted in the standards, which have now been adopted by all but four states.)

Via EdWeek Blog


California DOE to Translate the Common Core Standards into Spanish

The California Depart of Education (CDE) and the San Diego County Office of Education announced the ‘Common Core Translation Project’.  The project is slated to complete by September 2012.  For more details of the project, please see

Core Talk: Virginia Opts Out

Virginia Opts Out

Virginia has officially joined the cohort of states that have applied for flexibility from the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) of 1965. As of February 9, 2012, the flexibility application for ten states including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee was accepted. On February 23, 2012, the Virginia Board of Education (BOE), which boasts both a reputation of independence and high academic standards, unanimously voted to finalize their request for a waiver.

ESEA, which was more recently revised as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), was re-implemented by President Bush with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2002 in an attempt to raise US academic performance and reduce achievement gaps. Under NCLB, schools are required to prove that all students are performing at grade level in reading and math by 2014. As this deadline approaches, states such as Virginia are beginning to question their ability to reach these federally regulated accountability measures. If schools fail to meet these conditions, they could face severe consequences including replacing staff and closing schools. [Read more...]

MN Releases Final Draft of 2011 Social Studies Standards

The state social studies standards committee has completed its review and revision of the 2004 state social studies standards. The proposed 2011 standards are the result of an intensive year-long process that involved the committee’s study of national documents and reports on social studies education, examination of exemplary standards from other states, analysis of hundreds of comments submitted by the public, and an unprecedented number of expert reviews. The new standards are anchored in college- and career-readiness skills and feature grade-specific benchmarks in grades K-8 and a single band of benchmarks in grades 9-12.

The committee’s final draft is now proceeding through the state’s formal administrative rule making process. If adopted into rule, districts must implement the revised (2011) standards no later than the 2013-2014 school year. Until that time, the 2004 standards remain in effect.

About the 2011 Revised Social Studies Standards

  • Schools must implement the revised social studies standards no later than the 2013-2014 school year.
  • As required by state statute, benchmarks are identified for each specific grade level in grades K-8 rather than clusters of grades or grade bands (Minn. Stat. § 120B.023, subd. 1).
  • High school standards will remain in a single 9-12 grade band.The benchmarks specify “the academic knowledge and skills that schools must offer and students must achieve to satisfactorily complete a standard.” (Minn. Stat. § 120B.023, subd. 1)
  • The benchmarks are placed at the grade level where mastery is expected with recognition that a progression of learning experiences in earlier grades builds the foundation for mastery later on.
  • Social studies skills identified in the new standards complement, but do not duplicate, the social studies skills found in the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts.
  • Compared to the 2004 social studies standards, the 2011 revised standards feature— Fewer standards and benchmarks overall; Greater consistency among benchmarks in terms of “grain size;” Examples included for benchmarks only where needed; Less redundancy in concepts and skills among the social studies disciplines and grades; Smoother progression of knowledge and skills from grade to grade; Greater focus on 21st century skills and citizenship, college- and career- readiness; and Concepts and skills that prepare students for life in a more globally connected world.


Core Talk: The Land of Shakespeare? How about the Land of Gaga?

In recent years, there has been a surge of need for Engineering and Science professionals. Gadget firms are racing amongst themselves to create the newest and smallest toys, all the while furthering research and development for things like semiconductors and sustainable energy sources. Sadly, Americans aren’t the first in line to fill the jobs that are opening up in these sectors.

So far, a foreign workforce from India and China has been dominating in the STEM field and has thus been filling all those jobs that corporations need to progress their work. These countries have obviously proven themselves to be very good in all the areas that Americans are not. The American ego has been injured and to make things just a little bit worse, this foreign workforce is getting post-graduate degrees right here in the States before taking American jobs. Our education policymakers are en route to change this. The new trend is to push for educating individuals to be better qualified in the STEM areas. State Departments of Education are funneling funds to further the development of STEM-related standards and raise rigor in the classroom. Public schools are allocating what they have in their budgets to support the implementation and teaching of these standards, whether that means hiring better Science and Math teachers or investing more in Career and Technical Education programs.

In the midst of all the mayhem, I can’t help but question our motives for this urgent push and also wonder whether or not this will ultimately help America’s bottom line. Are we sure we aren’t poised to put all our eggs in one basket? Surely Engineers and Mathematicians won’t be the only ones with jobs in the coming years. Perhaps this is a time for us to think about where are strengths really may be. As we prioritize STEM education and curriculum, what is being neglected?

[Read more...]

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