Common Core’s challenges and opportunities

Schools have failed to take into account that it is the quality of the teacher that has the greatest impact on student learning. Though external accountability measures are unlikely to bring about change unless there is sufficient internal capacity to make this happen. You can’t improve learning outcomes for students without improving instruction.

Across the country, there is a substantial need for more teacher and leader professional development around the Common Core. Meeting the raised expectations of higher standards will require teachers to educate in profoundly different ways – not just in understanding what the new standards include and how they differ from the states’ old standards, but also how to make the instructional shifts needed for students to succeed.

There is an assumption that teachers arrive ready to engage students in learning effectively, but we all know that is far from the reality. Many teachers do not have access to the high-quality professional development needed throughout their careers to keep up with shifts in societal needs and in teaching practice.

As our company partners with schools across the country, we work in classrooms with devoted teachers committed to providing the best for their students who are struggling to meet the demands of multiple initiatives and more rigorous standards. However, in many cases, teachers lack the confidence to make the professional judgments needed to ensure that their teaching reflects students’ needs.

Often, they also lack the confidence of school leaders charged with providing teachers with the support they need to succeed. When a principal says, “my teachers can’t do that,” it sets their educators up for failure. In many cases, no one has actually spent time showing them what to do or what is important. Unless we include the support teachers need to grow to the next step, then that is an unfair assessment.

(Next page: Understanding student literacy trends)

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