Learning Standards in The Learning Cafe

Learning standards are not new to any teacher or parent. Over the course of the past few decades they have been refined to meet the needs of students living a world where information will double every 12 hours, according to a study conducted by IBM.

Read and interesting article about the information explosion heading our way.

Year ago, I consulted for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and I can assure you all measures are taken to serve the population at large as effectively as possible, while meeting the needs of diverse populations. Back in the day the Illinois State Learning Standards drove the Illinois State Assessment Test, the complextion of the teaching was very different.

Technology had yet to become an integral part of daily living. Careers were yet to be created to fill the voids of innovation. According to the World Economic Forum 65% of the students entering elementary school will hold jobs that do not yet exist (McLeod, Scott, Fisch).

If this isn’t pressure for parents and teachers alike, I don’t know what is.

In 2008 the Common Core State Standards initiative was launched by two no-for profit organizations: Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Added The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, two impactful teachers’ unions joined forces to become additional contributors to the creation of new learning standards. Added to the list of creators were national organization representing teachers of both math and English.

this is an impressive conglomeration of forces coming together for the good of our children. The creation of the CCSS took approximately 18 months and in 2010 the standards were finalized and official drafts were released.

It was 2010 when I unpacked these new standards and analyzed them against the current Illinois State Standards. I was impresses with their depth and the learning objects revealed. Upon decifering them and reflecting back on ISLS I revealed an implicid difference between both.

Specific skills as presented in the ISLS were replaced by larger concepts and learning objectives. Specificity of what exactly was being taught was replaced with braoder skills in the CCSS.

The Common Core Explainer Video

Of course this created and uproar in learning communities. The shift impacted the education system at large, and caused tension between leaders among school systems everywhere, and understandable so.

The CCSS were generated in only 18, yet claimed to serve teachers and students for the unknown future ahead.

The Common Core was created to address two audacious goals:

  • to unify assessment across states so that the meaning of proficient was uniformed for all content areas across the nation
  • to increase students scores in order to complete with the achievement of students across the globe

Essentially, our data was skewed under the old model of assessment, and our student were average when compared to other countries on international tests.

Making a shift that impacts the education system and students who are the products of its effort is an admirable goal. It is clear. There are challenges.  Since its inception, many state have recinded the Common Core. Still, consistent assessment across state is still in flex, causing inconsistencies in achievement data reported.

Here’s what I know. Accurate reporting and dissemination of data is important, as  are the standards. They establish consistent expectations and instruction.
But, …
Regardless of how the data is reported, goo teaching is good teaching and learning happens with or without grades.