Our Kids, Our Community, and the Common Core State Standards
In June of 2009, the Council of Chief State School Officers, including Randy Dorn, our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the National Governors Association initiated a partnership of parents, teachers, school administrators, and educational researchers from across the country. The goal was to develop a common set of academic standards that would guide the work of school districts across the nation in helping students to develop an essential set of skills, knowledge, and attributes that would ready them for the rigors of college or a career. The collaborators focused on developing standards for math, English language arts, and literacy for core and technical subjects. The final version of the Common Core State Standards was released in June 2010. Shortly thereafter, Washington State adopted the standards for implementation. Our children will be tested on these new standards beginning in the spring of 2015.
Make no mistake. These new standards are more rigorous. They ask our students to think more deeply, work problems more deliberately, read more critically and communicate more clearly.
But why? The answer to that question may have been provided more than sixty years ago by an esteemed American educator, Ralph Tyler. Ralph Tyler, an educational researcher with stints at the University of North Carolina, Ohio State University, and Stanford University, published the results of an eight-year study in a book entitled Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction (1949). In it, he posed the following:
"Should the school develop young people to fit into the present society as is, or does the school have a revolutionary mission to develop young people who seek to improve the society? ... If the school believes its primary function is to teach people to adjust to society, it will strongly emphasize obedience to the present authorities, loyalty to the present forms and traditions, skills in carrying on the present techniques in life. Whereas if it emphasizes the revolutionary function of school, it will be more concerned with critical analysis, the ability to meet new problems, independence and self-direction, freedom, and self-discipline."
Today’s experts, perhaps now more than ever, contend that schools must work to develop students that can critically analyze, have the ability to meet new problems, are independent and self-directed, value freedom, and are self-disciplined. Employers, as much as colleges and universities, are suggesting that these are essential skills and attributes for success. Apple Computer executives have been quoted as saying, “If you want to be managed, you are not employable.” In order for all of our young people to be prepared for either college or the new era of entrepreneurial, technical, and service careers, our schools must reorganize around a “revolutionary mission” as Tyler suggests.
At Burlington-Edison School District, we are embarking on a deep and deliberate review of all parts of our school system to determine how we must change in order to ensure that all students graduate with the essential skills, knowledge and attributes to succeed in our local community and in the world beyond. The Common Core State Standards will help us to define many of these essentials, but not all. It will be up to us – the school staff, students, parents, and community members – to roll up our sleeves and work together to ensure that each and every Burlington-Edison student is ready for the rigors of college, the demands of a career, and the complexities of citizenship in a diverse and vibrant valley.
Please use the following links to further research the Common Core State Standards: