Common Core State Standards: What a School Should Look Like
posted by: Alix | March 13, 2013, 03:49 PM   

There is no doubt that the shift to Common Core will bring about a change in not only how instruction is delivered, but also in the way schools operate. In order to meet some of the goals of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), schools will have to shift some of their practices. Individual schools will approach the challenges differently, but there are some universal changes that good schools should implement.

First and foremost, schools implementing Common Core will need to engage the community more. The transition to the standards may be a rough one and many experts predict there will be a dip in test scores when the new assessments are put in place next year. If communities are blindsided, schools may see some backlash; however, if communities are well-informed about the process, they will not be surprised to see the rough patches and will understand that this will lead to greater achievement in the future.

Schools may also need to overhaul technology. In order to achieve the higher quality assessments that the CCSS Consortia are aiming for, they have had to computerize testing. While these tests do not need a great amount of computing power, they will test the schools internet capabilities. Expect to see schools taking measures to increase bandwidth and add more screens within the year.

In many schools, especially in high schools, there should be greater cross-curricular communication. CCSS tries to force each subject area out of its own little bubble. Reading of non-fiction sources and writing now is expected to be taught across the curriculum. Math standards, like manipulating data and using charts and tables, will similarly be taught across the curriculum. While it's completely possible that subjects like science and social studies can incorporate math and language standards without talking to those teachers (and vice versa), the results will be weak. Communication and planning are the keys to implementing the standards well.

Schools committed to implementing CCSS well, will provide their teachers with strong professional development. Teaching with Common Core will involve a great shift for teachers' instructional methods, and they will need help with the intricacies of Common Core. This professional development should be more than an isolated workshop, quick breeze-through at a faculty meeting, or resources given without explanation. Like all quality professional development, it should be continuous, systemic, and engage the educator, and may involve methods like coaching and professional learning communities.

Finally, schools need to develop a strong school culture devoted to implementing these standards. If the implementation of CCSS does not have the full support of the school's faculty and staff, or if teachers only give them a half-hearted try, they are guaranteed not to succeed. In order to create a school where all employees are focused on improvement and the implementation of CCSS, there should be a culture where collaboration and innovation are key. Teachers need to be willing to change the way that they do things, and conversely teachers need to be involved in leading the implementation and making school leadership decisions.

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