We have all heard that the Common Core State Standards require educators to teach “an inch wide, and a mile deep.” Theoretically, we can spend more time exploring the nuances of language, applying math and science to real world situations, and realizing the common themes of human existence of societies throughout history, all while integrating research, technology, and the special content areas.
But this isn’t true. Educators I have spoken to are spending more time teaching scripted modules and “teaching to the test.” Why? Educators feel that they don’t have as much time to delve into their curricula as they should and as they would like to because, at the end of the day, they are evaluated by the progress their students make on local and state assessments.
Do we need to raise expectations for all of our students? Yes. Do we need to support our children to participate in the global community, while competing in the international economy? We must. Do we need to design innovative ways to teach so that all of our students can live up to their potential? It is our duty. But we can’t do that when we are still using tests that require students to choose the best response and bubble in the corresponding circle. And we certainly can’t do that if our own effectiveness as educators is judged primarily by those tests.
America is suffering a perfect storm, and educators are at its vortex. We have become a scapegoat for the ills of today’s society. Citizens are angry and frustrated because of the poor economy. Education, that tenet of civilization that has the potential to save people from ignorance and poverty through learning, is suffering the backlash. Educators received much more respect from their students and their parents when I began teaching almost 20 years ago; now, it often seems like we are being targeted as the reason for everything from higher school taxes to student failure.
Provide teachers with enough planning time, and they will collaborate with colleagues down the hallway and around the world to create learning experiences to inspire all of their students. Give them the appropriate resources and professional development to use innovative technology, and they will create authentic assessments that reflect their students’ strengths and progress toward mastery. Support them so that they can make genuine connections between home, school, and community, and our children can become 21st-century learners.
Kristina Holzweiss has been an educator for the past 20 years as a school media specialist and English teacher. A CTQ Collaboratory member, she leads workshops and conference presentations and is creator of the commoncoreconversation.com website, moderator of the Common Core Conversation Edmodo group, and the author of the Common Core Corner for School Library Monthly.
The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.