Across the country, teachers are adapting their instructional practices to the new Common Core standards in math and English language arts. A recent report, called Listening and Learning from Teachers: A Summary of Focus Groups on the Common Core and Assessments, reveals support, concerns and insights about the standards expressed by elementary teachers in Delaware, Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin. The teachers also discussed how the standards are affecting curricula and instructional materials, testing, student achievement data and accountability.
Although California teachers were not involved in these discussions, many of the comments shared may ring true for those working to implement the standards in this state.
Here are three excerpts related to the study’s key findings:
The standards have changed instruction in positive ways, teachers said.
“I like the way [teaching the math standards] makes kids stretch, it makes kids think, it makes them have to justify why that makes sense. It makes them look at thinking about their math instead of just moving numbers around.”
Several kindergarten and primary grade teachers said some standards did not appear to be developmentally appropriate for young children, who are still working on basic skills.
“We have to start at ground zero [for some kindergartners]. We have to spend the first quarter front loading letters and sounds, and how to hold a pencil, and how to sit in a chair, and none of that is accounted for in Common Core.”
A lack of standards-aligned instructional materials forced teachers to create their own.
“Prior to the Common Core State Standards, I don’t think many of us were involved in writing our own curriculum. But then when the Common Core came out…we didn’t really have a curriculum….We hunted, begged, searched, and tried to piece together things that matched that standard.”
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