Reading & Literacy

‘Work Groups’ Announced for K-12 Common Standards

By Sean Cavanagh — November 10, 2009 2 min read
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Academic scholars, teachers, state officials, school administrators, and at least one librarian fill the ranks of the newly announced “work groups,” for developing K-12 standards in English-language arts and math, the organizers of the project announced today.

The two teams will have the duty of completing the second phase of common state standards. The first phase was the drafting of college- and career-readiness standards, a draft of which was released a few months ago. The standards project, as many EdWeek readers know, is being guided by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, as part of an effort dubbed the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The goal is to bring more uniformity and consistency—and higher expectations—to the nation’s classrooms, though many obstacles remain before the standards would actually take effect.

A complete list of the members is provided in the link at the top, but in English-language arts, the names include Michael Kamil of Stanford University; Tracy Robertson, an English coordinator with the Virginia Department of Education; Timothy Shanahan of the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Laura McGiffert Slover of Achieve, among many others. For all the librarians out there, one of your own made the list: Steve Delvecchio, of Seattle.

In math, we find Deborah Loewenberg Ball of the University of Michigan; Francis “Skip” Fennell, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, who is a professor at McDaniel College in Maryland; Roger Howe of Yale University; Susan Wygant, a math specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education; James Madden of Louisiana State University; Vern Williams of Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, Va.; and Hung-Hsi Wu, of the University of California, Berkeley. Ball, Fennell, Williams, and Wu all served on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, which dealt extensively with elementary and middle grades math and preparing students for algebra. Fennell was also a player in putting together NCTM’s “Curriculum Focal Points,” which a couple years ago called for a more orderly approach to teaching math at those grade levels.

Some members of the work groups, observant readers will notice, also served on the college-and career-readiness document. As CCSSO/NGA have described this process, the work groups, behind closed doors, are producing the draft standards documents. (Last week, Dane Linn of NGA indicated that the K-12 group has been going about its business for a while now.) Their work is reviewed by “feedback” groups, who have been named previously and will remain the same. And finally, “validation” teams provide a final look before they are sent to state officials for approval. As my colleague Mary Ann Zehr has noted, a few validators are also members of the feedback groups, leading some to say that more separation of powers is needed.

In their announcement, NGA/CCSSO officials also said that another advisory group has been formed to provide guidance on the project. Members of this group include experts from Achieve, the ACT, the College Board, the National Association of State Boards of Education (whose members would eventually be presented with the finished product) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Once you’ve had a look at work teams, give me your thoughts. Is there one field that is over-represented, or ignored, or did they get the right mix?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.