The recent Update newsletter that was sent to homes in the district contained some great information about how Little Miami will be implementing the Common Core State Standards in our buildings over the next two years.
Not too long after that mailer landed in local mailboxes, a number of our staff members began receiving calls and emails from parents and residents who have questions about the Common Core and the new PARCC assessment, both of which will be fully in place in the 2014-2015 school year.
I certainly understand why people have those questions: There is so much information to take in when it comes to these and other educational changes throughout the state, even those of us who work in education can find it confusing.
I’m always glad to have these discussions about the business of teaching our students, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share more information about the Common Core and the PARCC test.
Q. When did Ohio adopt the Common Core State Standards?
A. The state of Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics in June 2010. At that time, the state board of education also adopted more rigorous academic standards in science and social studies. All four sets of new standards must be implemented in 2014-2015. (See the Ohio Dept. of Education website for more.)
Q. Was the federal government involved in developing the Standards?
A. No. The development of the Common Core standards was a state-led effort to establish a single set of clear educational standards for English language arts and math that states can share and voluntarily adopt. (See the Common Core website for more.)
Q. Will the Common Core standards dictate what a teacher can and cannot teach?
A. The Common Core standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms. These standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success.
Q. What is the PARCC assessment?
A. With the development of new Common Core standards, it became necessary to have a new testing tool that would accurately measure students’ progress. The Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) that our students have been taking would no longer fit the bill. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is a group of 22 states voluntarily working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English language arts and mathematics. Public school districts in Ohio must administer the PARCC (pronounced “park”) assessment in the 2014-2015 school year.
Q. Is the Common Core a “one size fits all” education for our students?
A. Absolutely not. The introduction of these new – and rigorous – standards is an exciting thing for Little Miami. These standards renew the emphasis on critical thinking: Students will need to know why they are answering a certain way, and teachers will ask for evidence that supports their answers. These standards are designed to prepare our students to be college- and career-ready, which is exactly in line with our goals here at Little Miami.
As we move through the shift to Common Core standards, we might find that materials are too challenging for some students. In those cases, we will do what we always have done: Intervene. Our intervention teachers and aides have always been a resource for students who need more time or more help to master a concept. New standards or new assessments do not change our commitment to student success.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has been running a series of articles about elements of the Common Core. Take a look at the April 15 and April 16 articles for a broader perspective on the subject.
And as always, if you have a question about the Common Core, the PARCC assessment, or anything about the curriculum here at Little Miami, please don’t hesitate to call or drop me a line.
Greg Power, Superintendent