Beginning with this school year (2014-2015), the Common Core State Standards will be fully implemented in our schools. What is Common Core and how will it effect your child?
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed by educators, researchers, national organizations and community groups to create country-wide benchmarks for English language arts and math, from the kindergarten level to 12th grade. This was not an initiative of the federal government, but rather was brought about by a conference of governors of each state. Forty-five states, including Michigan, have voluntarily adopted these standards. Local schools still design their own curriculum and methods of teaching; however, at the end of the day, everyone is using the same list of educational goals. This provides a way to compare what is happening in your school district to what is happening anywhere else in the country.
The standards were created to produce career and college-ready students after 12th grade. They also match international standards. Common Core hopes to develop more critical thinking skills rather than traditional school work.
With the new standards comes new assessments. For almost four years Michigan has been participating in the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to create a new test called Smarter Balanced which is a companion to the Common Core standards. Smarter Balanced is designed to be an online test with more written responses that would be administered in the spring rather than the fall. The initial plan was that Michigan would start using Smarter Balanced in spring of 2015. However, recently, Michigan lawmakers have voted against adopting this new test over concerns that schools are not ready for a computer based test and that more options need to be considered before committing to one specific test.
This leaves teachers in a bit of a bind because, as of right now, no one knows what test will be used to assess our children this school year. Michigan state officials are saying that the test will still be given in the spring to assess what students have learned during the school year, but it will likely still be the MEAP test, and no one knows right now what questions will be on it.
Stay tuned for more information and updates! Our LDC staff is here to help with any curriculum questions you may have.