I am fortunate to teach in a school and a district where the Common Core and PARCC assessments have been the topic of discussion for a while. I think I have a pretty strong understanding of the standards and the assessments. I wonder if other teachers feel they have the same understanding.
As we make the transition to the Common Core, my main concern is how we are going to get from point A, the standards, to point B, the assessments. At point A, we are discussing the content standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. We look at domains and clusters, and try to make sense of what that means for our current courses. From the perspective of point B, we preview a few released prototypes of a test that is supposed to be much different than our current assessments. The missing part, which is most important to me, is what is going on between those two points. What is instruction going to look and sound like as we take the standards and implement them to prepare our students to demonstrate their understanding on these new assessments?
When I ask this question, I often get the general answers like students will be problem-solving, applying the mathematical practices, writing and critiquing arguments, reading more non fiction, etc. What I am really looking for is how does all of this translate to daily instruction and how do teachers get students to transition to being more active and curious learners, who can take on a new style of assessment. How do we take our current style of teaching and our current content and adapt it to reach the new expectations?
We can easily take the Common Core and incorporate it into our language and curriculum guides, but the challenge is making it real and alive in classrooms. I wish we were moving from point A to point B with more discussion of happens in between. If field testing is around the corner, I hope we begin to have those discussions sooner than later. For some teachers and students, the new way of thinking may be a difficult concept to make reality.