Friday, April 23, 2010

Opportunity builders and the coming common core challenges

The Kentucky Association of Educational Opportunity Program Professionals met at Jenny Wiley today, and invited me to talk about Senate Bill 1, Common Core, and Race to the Top.  My presentation was built around issues blogged here and here, but the best part of the morning was getting to hear other takes on the challenges ahead.

KAEOPP members work with federally funded TRIO programs including Talent Search, Upward Bound, Education Opportunity Centers, Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program or other educational opportunity programs like GEAR-UP, so they're thinking hard about what will work to get more students to aim high.  Among the thoughts they shared:
  • The grade-by-grade math standards could lead to frustration for students who are ready to streak ahead of their classmates.  The standards' description of a  "floor" or minimum level of work students need to master each year  should not turn a "ceiling" for those who want to go further.
  • Higher standards, even if clearer and deeper, will not by themselves help low-income and minority students achieve at higher levels.  Meeting the standards will take richer teaching and stronger support.
  • Today, some students deliberately plan to use "credit recovery" options because they think the work will be easier than in regular classrooms.  With multiple states using the same standards, we should make sure that the on-line and summer-school options are as rigorous as the school-year course work.
  • Teacher preparation programs will need major changes to equip new teachers to deliver higher standards and deeper learning. (I assured the participants that Senate Bill 1 and the Professional Standards Board do indeed see that challenge as a major support effort we'll need to meet the standards.)

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