Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Raising standards (with 46 states)

The multi-state effort to develop common academic standards aligned with college readiness is picking up steam. Organized by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the plan now has 46 states on board with commitments from their own governors and chiefs. Kentucky committed early and will use the mathematics and language arts standards as the foundation of our new SB 1 standards.

According to new reporting in Ed Week:
The groups plan to pursue their aggressive timeline of getting college- and career-readiness standards—those things students should know by the time they finish high school—in draft form for states and eventually the public to review in July. Grade-by-grade standards—which the organizers are also calling “learning progression standards”—are set to be done in December.

Working groups composed of representatives from the Washington-based group Achieve, the New York City-based College Board, and ACT Inc., the Iowa City, Iowa-based organization that administers the college-entrance test of that name, will develop the standards.

Both the NGA and the CCSSO plan to create a “validation” committee made up of independent national and international experts in content standards to review and comment on the drafts. The experts will be nominated by states and organizations, but ultimately chosen by those two organizations.

Once the standards are agreed to, it will be up to the states to get them adopted. The signed memo stipulates that the common core must represent at least 85 percent of a state’s standards, and that the common core needs to be adopted within three years.

That method, starting with achievement and testing experts and then bringing in a validation committee, looks great to me. When practitioner committees have advocates for many different details, they far too often settle for including everything, producing lists that are unmanageable at the classroom level. The NGA/CCSSO approach seems far more likely to produce something lean, clear, and capable of supporting rich instruction and balanced classroom assessment.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!