You may or may not have heard about the changes in curriculum coming to our students in the next few years. These changes are significant and many schools including Rugby are busy implementing the new curriculum. In 2009, the Common Core State Standards initiative began. The initiative was led primarily by the Governor’s Association in conjunction with other stakeholders. There were several reasons that continue to guide this initiative including; differences in academic expectations from state to state, student mobility (ex. Western ND), changes in skill sets needed in college and career, and finally global competition. 46 states have now accepted these standards. The Common Core will replace our current state standards.
The current state standards are a mile wide and an inch deep. There is too much emphasis on content. Robert Marzano (2005) found that if we wanted to get through all the standards we would have to change from K-12 to K-22 model. We have a coverage mentality in the United States. We cover many topics but rarely study the topic in depth. The Common Core gives us a more complete road map to ensure college and career readiness. The Common Core impacts all teachers, and it will be important for all subject areas to play a role. Teachers in Rugby Public Schools are working in collaboration with one another to implement these new standards. They are establishing what all students should know and be able to do at every grade level and subject area. The move to the Common Core coincides well with the work of our professional learning communities.
Accountability in education is not going away with the Common Core. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year our students will be assessed on these new standards. There are two testing consortia that we have to choose from – Smarter Balance and PAARC. North Dakota has yet to commit to either. At some point down the road our state will commit to one or the other. The impact of the Common Core is significant. It will take a large amount of work from all stakeholders within schools to implement these standards. In many cases the Common Core is more rigorous than our state standards. For example, in some instances in mathematics material that was previously taught in the sixth grade has been moved two to three grade levels lower. This will require quite a bit of communication to vertically align the curriculum by grade level and subject. Over the course of the next two years our staff will be working to align our curriculum to the Common Core State Standards. It is a work in progress and there is much to learn along the way.