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A Steep Climb: Journeying Into the Common Standards in English/Language Arts

Monday, June 17, 2013, 2 to 3 p.m. ET
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 A Steep Climb: Journeying Into the Common Standards in English/Language Arts(06/17/2013) 
9:14
Bryan Toporek: 
Good morning, folks, and welcome to today's free live chat, "A Steep Climb: Journeying Into the Common Standards in English/Language Arts." I've just opened the chat for questions, so please start submitting yours below.

We'll be back at 2 p.m. ET with EdWeek's common-core expert, Catherine Gewertz. We hope you can join us!
Monday June 17, 2013 9:14 Bryan Toporek
9:14
Bryan Toporek: 
For those who haven't read Catherine's work on D.C. public schools' experience with common-core implementation, the first three parts of the series are at the bottom of this page. Be sure to check those out, too!
Monday June 17, 2013 9:14 Bryan Toporek
1:45
Bryan Toporek: 
Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today's free chat on journeying into the common standards in English/Language Arts. We'll get underway here in about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, please keep submitting any questions you have below. Thanks!
Monday June 17, 2013 1:45 Bryan Toporek
1:46
Bryan Toporek: 
Also, if you haven't read Catherine's series on D.C. public schools' experience with common-core implementation, you can find the whole collection here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/common-core-a-steep-climb/index.html
Monday June 17, 2013 1:46 Bryan Toporek
2:01
Bryan Toporek: 
Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today's free chat on journeying into the common standards in English/Language Arts. Our guest today, EdWeek  reporter Catherine Gewertz, spent six months reporting on how the District of Columbia's vision of the common-core English/language arts standards is being put into practice in one 8th grade classroom at one school, Stuart-Hobson Middle School on Capitol Hill.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:01 Bryan Toporek
2:02
Bryan Toporek: 

You can find Catherine's full series here, for those who haven't yet seen it:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/common-core-a-steep-climb/index.html

Monday June 17, 2013 2:02 Bryan Toporek
2:02
Bryan Toporek: 
Catherine, would you mind introducing yourself? And to get us started, can you tell us a bit about the series?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:02 Bryan Toporek
2:03
Catherine Gewertz: 
Sure, Bryan, thanks. I'm glad to have the chance to chat with people about this series. I'm an assistant editor here at EdWeek, and our lead common-core reporter for three years. Also, I cover the literacy/ELA side of the curriculum beat.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:03 Catherine Gewertz
2:03
Catherine Gewertz: 
The series grew out of my concern about how a nation will accelerate so many kids so quickly in the wake of the common core. I kept wondering, as I went from place to place on stories, do we have the capacity to do this so quickly>?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:03 Catherine Gewertz
2:04
Catherine Gewertz: 
I found a way to explore that story, by hanging out in one classroom on Capitol Hill, in a district doing very aggressive common-core work.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:04 Catherine Gewertz
2:04
Bryan Toporek: 
Great. Thanks, Catherine. Let's get started with this question from Leslie.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:04 Bryan Toporek
2:04
[Comment From LeslieLeslie: ] 
Why do you think D.C. serves as a useful case study for common core implementation nationwide?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:04 Leslie
2:05
Catherine Gewertz: 
That's a great question, Leslie, and it's what I was trying to do by writing the series. I think DC is useful because it shows what a district might do if it takes a super-assertive, comprehensive, whole-hog approach to implementation... and (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:05 Catherine Gewertz
2:06
Catherine Gewertz: 
... also because its students and teachers allow us to see the typical challenges that most places across the country will face as their districts try to put the ELA standards in place. From a policy perspective, it gives us a chance to see what supports might be needed to really get this done (if that's what your district chooses to do).
Monday June 17, 2013 2:06 Catherine Gewertz
2:07
Bryan Toporek: 
Great. Thanks for addressing that. Let's stay focused on D.C. with this next question from Anne P.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:07 Bryan Toporek
2:07
[Comment From Anne P.Anne P.: ] 
Taking a step back, what's the hardest part of covering a story with this much breadth? How do you balance the individual experiences of students and teachers at Stuart-Hobson, and D.C. as an entity, with the broader story of standard implementation nationwide?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:07 Anne P.
2:08
Catherine Gewertz: 
Terrific question, Anne. It did -- and does, since part 4 of my series doesnt appear til August -- require some careful balancing. I saw Stuart Hobson as a both a typical school with typical challenges, and useful to illustrate that. But also as a school with some particular strengths -- emblematic of things a school can bring. The flip side, though, is that DCPS students have more than their share (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:08 Catherine Gewertz
2:09
Catherine Gewertz: 
... of challenges. And I think that's worth noting, because many places will have similar challenges, and also, because the places that have particular challenges need supports to answer those challenges. DCPS and Stuart-Hobson allowed me to point out both the universal and particular challenges & strengths in play here.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:09 Catherine Gewertz
2:10
Bryan Toporek: 
Speaking of the challenges & strengths of the CCSS, can you address this question from Meredith?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:10 Bryan Toporek
2:10
[Comment From MeredithMeredith: ] 
Can you talk a little bit about how the teacher is/others in DC are feeling about CCSS at this point in the year?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:10 Meredith
2:11
Catherine Gewertz: 
Sure, Meredith, though it's hard to generalize. As you can imagine, I see viewpoints all over the spectrum. The tippity-top of DCPS is, of course, very pro-common-core. They recognize the hard parts of the work they're asking folks to do, and the difficulties w capacity that they face. (contd)...
Monday June 17, 2013 2:11 Catherine Gewertz
2:12
Catherine Gewertz: 
At Stuart-Hobson, some teachers are bigger fans of the common core than are others. So there is a big range there. Even the ones who love it experience the shift being very hard, often without enough support or time to feel they've really "got it."
Monday June 17, 2013 2:12 Catherine Gewertz
2:13
Catherine Gewertz: 
lastly, meredith, some of the story will be told when summative test scores come in, later this summer. I'll write about that in part 4 in August.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:13 Catherine Gewertz
2:13
Bryan Toporek: 
Great. Let's take this question from Donna next:  
Monday June 17, 2013 2:13 Bryan Toporek
2:13
[Comment From DonnaDonna: ] 
Can you share how D.C. teachers shared responsibility for students' literacy development?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:13 Donna
2:14
Catherine Gewertz: 
Sure, Donna, thanks. From my perch at Stuart-Hobson, I saw much of that occurring through the instructional coach, Sarah Hawley. She conducted group--and sometimes cross-disciplinary--work sessions with teachers (contd)...
Monday June 17, 2013 2:14 Catherine Gewertz
2:15
Catherine Gewertz: 
so she had math, social studies, ELA, science teachers together talking about literacy work and grading rubrics, assignments, etc. Plus she observed all those teachers as they taught & gave them feedback. At the district level, I saw (contd)...
Monday June 17, 2013 2:15 Catherine Gewertz
2:15
Catherine Gewertz: 
... this taking shape through professional development days, which occur every 6-8 weeks, after each unit is taught. They dive pretty deeply together into nitty gritty literacy stuff during these daylong meetings. And at one of the winter ones I attended, teachers of non-ELA subjects were there too.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:15 Catherine Gewertz
2:16
Bryan Toporek: 
Here's a similar question from Barbara C. about those professional development days.  
Monday June 17, 2013 2:16 Bryan Toporek
2:16
[Comment From Barbara CBarbara C: ] 
Do teachers at Stuart-Hobson have regular times during the school week to work together?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:16 Barbara C
2:17
Catherine Gewertz: 
Hi, Barbara, from the National Council of Teachers of English... :-) Yes, they do. From what I saw at Stuart-Hobson, those meetings sometimes have to be rescheduled. But there is a team ELA meeting weekly. And grade level meetings weekly. Plus the coach, principal & the two APs meet weekly.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:17 Catherine Gewertz
2:18
Bryan Toporek: 
Great, thanks for that additional information. Let's move on to a slightly different topic with this question from MDavis.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:18 Bryan Toporek
2:18
Catherine Gewertz: 
And the teachers working with the coach in any given "instructional cycle" meet regularly, also, on whatever focus area they've chosen.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:18 Catherine Gewertz
2:18
[Comment From mdavismdavis: ] 
Do DC district teachers and administrators think the Common Core will enhance student understanding of the material?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:18 mdavis
2:19
Catherine Gewertz: 
Thanks for that question, Michelle. I don't think I can generalize about this one. There is a range of opinion, as you might imagine, on how profound or helpful the common core will be in the end. At this early point of implementation, some feel optimistic, and others, less so.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:19 Catherine Gewertz
2:20
Bryan Toporek: 
Good to know. Here's a somewhat similar question from Michael:
Monday June 17, 2013 2:20 Bryan Toporek
2:20
[Comment From Michael MauneMichael Maune: ] 
Did the teachers you worked with ever talk about being constrained by the CCSS? If so, how did they work through it?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:20 Michael Maune
2:21
Catherine Gewertz: 
That's a really good question, Michael. Yes, the teacher I shadowed for 6 months did feel a bit constrained, though I might clarify that it wasnt by the common core itself, but by the instructional units the district created for them. Since those (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:21 Catherine Gewertz
2:22
Catherine Gewertz: 
... units are optional, she did in fact dump a couple of them -- or large portions of them -- to go her own way with the materials she used. She aimed at the same standards, but paved her own curricular pathway to get there.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:22 Catherine Gewertz
2:23
Bryan Toporek: 
Great. Thanks, Catherine. Just as a reminder, you can read Catherine's series on D.C.'s common-core implementation here:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/common-core-a-steep-climb/index.html
Monday June 17, 2013 2:23 Bryan Toporek
2:24
Bryan Toporek: 
Let's take this question from Chip K. next.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:24 Bryan Toporek
2:24
[Comment From Chip K.Chip K.: ] 
It sounds to me like collaboration is the key to making this work. Where do you think the communication breakdowns are most likely to occur?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:24 Chip K.
2:25
Catherine Gewertz: 
Ooooh, Chip, this is a weak spot, from what I've seen, so I'm glad you asked. The bigger the district, the harder it is to get everyone on the same page, right? So this is really challenging. Just expand that when you are talking about a state's work (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:25 Catherine Gewertz
2:25
Catherine Gewertz: 
... to implement. The trickle-down is a huge problem. Not just getting your theory of action out there, but any materials/resources you create. On this beat, I see ALL THE TIME that states and districts do not get their messages out effectively.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:25 Catherine Gewertz
2:26
Catherine Gewertz: 
Collaboration, too, can't really happen if the communication doesn't bring enough folks together and get them singing in harmony.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:26 Catherine Gewertz
2:26
Catherine Gewertz: 
not to mention buy-in... which can be a problem too.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:26 Catherine Gewertz
2:26
Bryan Toporek: 
Well said. Let's change gears for a second with this student-centric question from Wendy.  
Monday June 17, 2013 2:26 Bryan Toporek
2:26
[Comment From WendyWendy: ] 
What did you learn from observing students? Were some overwhelmed, lost?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:26 Wendy
2:28
Catherine Gewertz: 
Wendy, thank you for asking this question. What I saw alternately inspired me and broke my heart. I focused on one particular class period of the teacher's day, and it was low-average on skill level. So I saw a big difference between that class and the lowest-skills class, and her highest-skills classes, which I also watched from time to time (contd)..
Monday June 17, 2013 2:28 Catherine Gewertz
2:28
Catherine Gewertz: 
I spent the bulk of my time in this one class, the one with Mikel in it. And these kids have been going to school for years without learning much of what they're now expected to know... the background knowledge, the skills, that are weak are hobbling them. (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:28 Catherine Gewertz
2:29
Catherine Gewertz: 
... there is just this overwhelming feeling of having to learn so much in so little time, since they're in 8th grade already. And teachers are trying SO hard. But it seems to me that we might have real capacity issues in providing all that is needed to close those gaps.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:29 Catherine Gewertz
2:30
Bryan Toporek: 
Glad you brought that up. This question from Kevin touches upon that issue, too.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:30 Bryan Toporek
2:30
[Comment From KevinKevin: ] 
As an ELA teacher, let me start by saying that I am a supporter of the common core and raising the bar. However, as a High School ELA teacher, I am concerned about common core implementation, specifically regarding our evaluations and student achievement in the next two years. For example, what is currently considered an "advanced" lexile score will be considered just "proficient" under common core. 10 years from now, when the little 1st graders reach my high school class, I see this as a great thing. They will have been prepped, taught, and trained at this higher level. But next year, how could my high school students suddenly be judged against the new criteria? All of my kids who are currently reading on grade level will now be considered below grade level. How will this effect student performance and teacher evals at the high school level in the next couple of years?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:30 Kevin
2:31
Catherine Gewertz: 
Kevin, I am really glad you asked this. Cuz I have been worried about this. From what I see, most districts/states that are phasing in the common core are starting from the littlest ones and moving up. Some, of course, like DC, are doing everything at once, all grades. But most are taking chunks, and starting young (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:31 Catherine Gewertz
2:32
Catherine Gewertz: 
... and I keep wondering, what about those kids that will be first to hit the buzz saw of tests? Like in two years, right? And those tests could be used to make decisions that affect students themselves (depending on how states and districts decide to use test scores... grad requirement? promotion? we dont know this yet) (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:32 Catherine Gewertz
2:33
Catherine Gewertz: 
... and could affect teachers, schools, etc. And because I adore adolescents & middle/high school issues, I have watched this and wondered, how does a nation accelerate/support adolescents who are verging on college & jobs, who haven't had the benefit of all those years of rigor? Where are the supports? A painful and unanswered question.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:33 Catherine Gewertz
2:34
Bryan Toporek: 
We're getting a number of general CCSS-implementation questions, so I want to make sure we touch upon a few of those, too. Can you start with this question from Dr. T Bowie?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:34 Bryan Toporek
2:34
[Comment From Dr. T. BowieDr. T. Bowie: ] 
I fear at all levels, there is a real range of preparedness for common core implementation. How will this affect students who are already at an educational disadvantage?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:34 Dr. T. Bowie
2:35
Catherine Gewertz: 
exactly right, Dr. Bowie. this is a good chunk of what propelled me to do this series. the fact that I happen to be right here in DC, which serves so many kids of poverty, gave me a unique chance to show some of this. I was trying to show the gaps (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:35 Catherine Gewertz
2:36
Catherine Gewertz: 
... the need, what kids come to school every day not knowing. From a policy perspective, it seemed to me, it's crucial that we know what supports are needed, so we have some chance of providing them, if we are going to do a big initiative like this. Increasing expectations can benefit those who need it the most (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:36 Catherine Gewertz
2:36
Catherine Gewertz: 
... or can harm them the most, since it risks leaving them behind even more if it isn't done well. I kept thinking about that maxim that we are only as good a society as how well we take care of our neediest members... and I tried to show what some kids (and teachers) need to get this right...
Monday June 17, 2013 2:36 Catherine Gewertz
2:38
Bryan Toporek: 
Here's another question from Barbara C that ties into what you just discussed:  
Monday June 17, 2013 2:38 Bryan Toporek
2:38
[Comment From Barbara CBarbara C: ] 
How can the media help the public understand the extent of the stretch that students who have been unprepared for expectations of the standards will have to make to meet the standards and the challenges for teachers trying to help them? Especially when the tests go into effect, with expected low scores, members of the public may become angry, not understanding what Kevin has just explained.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:38 Barbara C
2:38
Catherine Gewertz: 
And Wendy: to be quite direct, YES, many students seemed overwhelmed and lost.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:38 Catherine Gewertz
2:39
Catherine Gewertz: 
Yes, Barbara, this question has been a topic of great strategizing and discussion in many places. At the state level, you're already seeing tons of messaging & spin about this: what to expect when the first test results come out, that they will be lower, and that this is because the tests are harder, better gauges of what it means to truly be ready for college...(contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:39 Catherine Gewertz
2:41
Catherine Gewertz: 
... clearly there is already a recognition & fear that the public will go haywire, feeling tens of thousands of kids -- and school -- and teachers -- are not doing well enough. There is lots of thinking about how to explain what the new tests scores really mean. This is a huge communications challenge, to lots of very skeptical people.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:41 Catherine Gewertz
2:41
Catherine Gewertz: 
how successfully people accept and embrace that message will be anyone's guess. But state and district people expect those test scores (2015, common assessments) will be tough to unveil.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:41 Catherine Gewertz
2:42
Catherine Gewertz: 
it will take an awful lot of explaining, carefully walking people through the tests, what they gauge, what results mean, how this cut score is actually better aligned with college than the old cut score, etc, to convince people that these new low scores are okay... will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:42 Catherine Gewertz
2:43
Bryan Toporek: 
I believe our State EdWatch blog has covered that question the past (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/), too, but it's sure to come up more and more as we move closer to the common-core tests being rolled out across most of the country.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:43 Bryan Toporek
2:43
Bryan Toporek: 
Along those lines, can you address this question from Thomas B. Radey about CCSS-implementation challenges?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:43 Bryan Toporek
2:44
[Comment From Thomas B. RadeyThomas B. Radey: ] 
Where do you think the challenges to implementation are -- at the state or local level? Do you think it's a lack of understanding? A lack of resources?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:44 Thomas B. Radey
2:44
Catherine Gewertz: 
perhaps there will be folks out there who find a way to very clearly communicate, here is what kids used to be demonstrating with xxx score on our test, and here is what they are demonstrating NOW, and maybe that contrast will be satisfying to some. Not sure.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:44 Catherine Gewertz
2:44
Catherine Gewertz: 
Sure, Mr. Radey. They're at the state and local level. From the very top to the very bottom, most granular level, from what i've seen. (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:44 Catherine Gewertz
2:45
Catherine Gewertz: 
... this is an awfully big country and it's taken a while for most folks to really hear about CCSS and get their hands on it and take a look at what it means. States are all over the map in terms of how far along they are, and & how well they're communicating this and providing resources... (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:45 Catherine Gewertz
2:46
Catherine Gewertz: 
and districts too. Some of the big-city districts are way ahead of their states, and in some cases, thats cuz they got sick of waiting, frankly, from what they tell me. So they are creating their own materials and doing strong work in some places. (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:46 Catherine Gewertz
2:47
Catherine Gewertz: 
everyone is hampered by the same capacity issues, though, and the ones I mean here are the time needed to really understand this stuff and figure out how to teach it, how to design materials for it, PD for it, etc. There are big changes, and they dont happen quickly. Some places are pushing hard to make them happen quickly, and some are very behind the curve.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:47 Catherine Gewertz
2:47
Bryan Toporek: 
Let's get back to a few D.C.-centric questions to wrap up here. Can you take this one from Leslie first?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:47 Bryan Toporek
2:47
Catherine Gewertz: 
lack of personnel, lack of money, lack of time... students who have weak skills, teachers whose content and pedagogy need big shifts... administrators who are still learning what good common core instruction in their teachers should look like... you name it, this is a work in progress.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:47 Catherine Gewertz
2:48
[Comment From LeslieLeslie: ] 
Leslie here, again. What elements about D.C.'s experience, in your mind, place it into the "super-assertive" category? What supports would you identify as being key to D.C.'s success in implementing the common core?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:48 Leslie
2:48
Catherine Gewertz: 
Well, Leslie, let me say that DC's "success" is still an unanswered question. I dont think any district can answer how well a big initiative like this has gone until they see how well their students fare in the years ahead. So be prepared to be patient and take the long view here when it comes to "success." (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:48 Catherine Gewertz
2:50
Catherine Gewertz: 
to answer the first part of your question, though, Part 1 of my story lays out the big pieces DCPS put into play on this. No doubt they are getting into it on more grade levels and in more ways than most places. That is why i said they were very aggressive out it. They went whole-hog, all-in, with a scope-and-sequence, instructional units, interim assessments aligned to the new standards, and a year-end summative test aligned as well... (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:50 Catherine Gewertz
2:50
Catherine Gewertz: 
they revamped their PD to reflect the common core, and made sure it touched teachers & administrators at least 4 or 5 times a year... and the system of coaches in nearly every school... these are some of the elements that are more than most any place is doing, esp when you think they're doing it K-12.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:50 Catherine Gewertz
2:51
Bryan Toporek: 
Here's a similar question from Michael:  
Monday June 17, 2013 2:51 Bryan Toporek
2:51
[Comment From Michael MauneMichael Maune: ] 
How well do you think DC's aggressive implementation strategy accomplished its goals? Do you see it as a model for other districts?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:51 Michael Maune
2:52
Catherine Gewertz: 
Michael, the only thing I think I can say at this point is that time will tell. If the CCSS are meant to ensure that kids are prepared for college, it seems to me that tracking their success there will tell a valuable part of that story. And there is a research agenda that intends to follow that. So stay tuned. (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:52 Catherine Gewertz
2:54
Catherine Gewertz: 
.. whether DC is a model depends a lot on how you feel about the common core. :-) Those who oppose it would HATE this to be a model. Because this is big-time implementation. DC's way of doing it is one way of doing it. There are others, as well, of course. It's ONE model. But I'm guessing that each district has to figure out what kind of implementation works best for them, with their particular needs.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:54 Catherine Gewertz
2:55
Catherine Gewertz: 
And also their available resources.
Monday June 17, 2013 2:55 Catherine Gewertz
2:55
Bryan Toporek: 
Good points. Can you take this question from Laura H. next?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:55 Bryan Toporek
2:55
[Comment From Laura H.Laura H.: ] 
Through your reporting at the school, what did you hear teachers saying about the common core? Are they spending any time debating whether the standards are good/bad? Or are they well past that? What are their greatest concerns about implementation?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:55 Laura H.
2:56
Catherine Gewertz: 
You know, Laura, I did definitely hear that debating, which frankly, I think is really healthy. In particular, one group-coaching session sticks out in my head (and it's reported, by the way, in Part 2 or Part 3 of my series... can't recall which right now!)... (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:56 Catherine Gewertz
2:57
Catherine Gewertz: 
the teachers were sitting around talking about close-reading, and a social studies teacher was saying how hard it was to keep kids engaged when you are reading the same small chunk of text again and again, in different ways... (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:57 Catherine Gewertz
2:57
Catherine Gewertz: 
This same teacher took issue with the writing rubric that the instructional coach was using with him in his classroom... he didnt feel it measured the right things. So this is hard work, not everyone agrees on the best way to go. And (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 2:57 Catherine Gewertz
2:58
Catherine Gewertz: 
teachers are bound to feel that their districts are imposing stuff on them, new ways of doing things, and they may or may not agree that these are best. So the issue of buy-in is pretty huge. Even the teacher I followed, who is a CCSS supporter, had her challenges & disagreements with it. But there is NEVER universal agreement on standards or curriculum....
Monday June 17, 2013 2:58 Catherine Gewertz
2:59
Bryan Toporek: 
Very true. Looks like we've only got time for two more questions, so, can you take this one from Rebecca?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:59 Bryan Toporek
2:59
[Comment From RebeccaRebecca: ] 
What role is there for motivating students through choice and meaningful self-selected text in the DC teachers' experience?
Monday June 17, 2013 2:59 Rebecca
3:01
Catherine Gewertz: 
You know what, Rebecca, I didn't see this in action in the classroom I spent these last months in. Mostly there were assigned readings. It's also quite possible that there was more choice on days I wasnt there, or during first semester (when I hadnt begun the project yet). So I dont think I can be too helpful on this one. Sorry.
Monday June 17, 2013 3:01 Catherine Gewertz
3:01
Bryan Toporek: 
OK, in that case, let's end on this question from Eli Angel.  
Monday June 17, 2013 3:01 Bryan Toporek
3:01
[Comment From Eli AngelEli Angel: ] 
In the end, teachers are where this is make or break. Do you think they are buying into the common core? What kind of help do they need to be successful in this implementation?
Monday June 17, 2013 3:01 Eli Angel
3:03
Catherine Gewertz: 
Thanks for that, Eli. I think a lot of teachers see the common core as a great opportunity to do things in a different way. I talk to teachers who are excited about it. But many also see it as problematic, either for being too tough or not tough enough; too focused on skills at the expense of content, or unrealistic given the timetable and amount of support they do -- or don't -- have. (contd)
Monday June 17, 2013 3:03 Catherine Gewertz
3:04
Catherine Gewertz: 
From my experience in DC, it seems to me that what teachers need the most is time to make sense of this stuff, to work together, to study it deeply, to brainstorm, to teach it, see what works, re-teach it differently. to get the time, and the PD, and a rich abundance of resources, would be a good first step. And that stuff varies a ton from place to place.
Monday June 17, 2013 3:04 Catherine Gewertz
3:04
Catherine Gewertz: 
but also they have to be willing to change. some teachers are, some arent. for a variety of reasons. obviously if they see the CCSS as misguided, they wouldnt want to change to reflect it. Really, the landscape is peppered with all kinds of reactions. Where it all comes down, in a year or two, will be interesting to see.
Monday June 17, 2013 3:04 Catherine Gewertz
3:05
Bryan Toporek: 
That's a perfect place to wrap up. Any final thoughts, Catherine, about D.C.'s experience or CCSS implementation in general?
Monday June 17, 2013 3:05 Bryan Toporek
3:06
Catherine Gewertz: 
I think we've covered the basics here, Bryan: it's a very heavy lift, even for a district devoting a ton of its resources to this. It's a heavy lift with an uncertain outcome. Potentially inspiring, potentially disheartening, or a mixture. I will attempt to cover that story as well as I can in the coming months, and I encourage everyone to track it and reach out to us with thoughts, guidance, whatever you wish.
Monday June 17, 2013 3:06 Catherine Gewertz
3:07
Bryan Toporek: 
Perfect. Well, folks, that's all the time we have today. A special thanks to Catherine for taking the time out to answer all of the great questions we had today, and thanks to all who submitted those great questions, too.  We'll have a transcript of today's chat up on this same page within the hour.

Thanks again for joining us, and have a great rest of the week!  
Monday June 17, 2013 3:07 Bryan Toporek
3:08
 

 
 
 

A Steep Climb: Journeying Into the Common Standards in English/Language Arts

Monday, June 17, 2013, 2 to 3 p.m. ET

How school districts move the Common Core State Standards from the central office into classrooms can make or break the undertaking. Education Week spent six months reporting on how the District of Columbia’s vision of the common-core English/language arts standards is being put into practice in one 8th grade classroom at one school, Stuart-Hobson Middle School on Capitol Hill. In this chat, the writer of the series, Catherine Gewertz, discussed the challenges that states and districts face as they implement the new standards.

Guest:
Catherine Gewertz, assistant editor, Education Week (@CGewertz)

Bryan Toporek, online news producer, Education Week, moderated this chat. (@SchooledinSport)

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