Three years can seem like a lot of time or a little, depending on your perspective. I’m betting that when it comes to the Common Core State Standards, most teachers feel like three years isn’t a lot.
Three years from now is when the assessments designed for the standards are supposed to be fully operational. Assuming those tests end up being faithful reflections of the standards, students will be tested on how well they’ve mastered the expectations outlined there. And those results, in turn, are supposed to reflect whether 11th graders are ready for college and careers, and whether younger students are on track to be.
We’ve written before about the educator corps’ own journey toward readiness. It’s a seriously big job to reach millions of teachers and principals nationwide with the key messages of the standards, let alone to reach deeply enough to change long-held practice. And that’s where the weird, contradictory sense of time comes in: is three years enough or too little to get that job done?
A couple of posts by my colleagues recently put me in mind of the questions hanging over the professional-development piece of the common standards. Lesli Maxwell reported recently that teachers in California don’t exactly feel prepared to manage the bridging required to allow English learners to access the standards. And Erik Robelen reported last week on a new study that found, among other things, that most teachers know about the standards, but few feel fully prepared to teach them.
The study showed half of teachers feeling “somewhat prepared,” with about one quarter on either side of that feeling “very prepared” or “somewhat/very unprepared.”
So the optimistic spin is that the vast middle chunk shows how far the system has come since the standards were unveiled nearly two years ago. But the pessimistic spin is that there is still a long way to go. Having just come back from a trip to Kentucky, where I watched the intense focus on the common core play out in two school districts, I can tell you that there is some very passionate work going on out there. How far that reaches, and how it takes hold, will bear watching.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.