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In spring 2009, a committee of ASCD members began a yearlong review of the issue of education standards in general and the Common Core State Standards in particular. The following timeline tracks ASCD’s involvement with the standards from that point until today, highlighting our concerns about the Common Core standards' development and adoption process as well as our subsequent work in the field to support educators as states have implemented the standards.
ASCD’s Position Development Committee—a 16-member committee of ASCD members and educators in a variety of professional roles—begins a yearlong examination of the issue of education standards generally and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in particular.
ASCD sends an open letter (PDF) to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that raises deep concerns about federal involvement with the standards. In particular, the letter communicates the association’s strong objections to making Common Core adoption a requirement for states to receive Race to the Top funds.
"We believe it is both premature and inappropriate for the Department of Education to require states to adopt a set of “common core” (i.e., “national”) standards as a condition to be eligible to apply for and receive this federal grant. We are also very concerned about the timing of the Race to the Top requirements relative to the development of a common core of standards… More broadly, we are concerned that the proposed requirement that states adopt the common core standards will preempt what, up to now, has been a state-led process and call into question the voluntary nature of state adoption of the standards that has allowed the CCSI to gain widespread support."
ASCD’s Position Development Committee shares the results of its yearlong study of education standards. The committee’s position on standards development and implementation asserts that ASCD supports high standards for student learning and achievement that are the result of a development process that is state-led, transparent, and implemented under specific guiding principles. Those principles include educating the whole child through a broad and rich curriculum and incorporating educator input throughout the standards development, implementation, and evaluation process.
Despite noting the speed and opaqueness of the Common Core standards development process as well as federal involvement in the state-led initiative, the committee also recommends endorsing the Common Core initiative, allowing ASCD to help focus attention on its guiding principles throughout the standards implementation process.
ASCD’s Leadership Council—more than 125 ASCD member leaders responsible for shaping the association’s policies and positions—approves the position as well as the committee’s recommendation to endorse the Common Core State Standards.
ASCD announces that it has become an endorsing partner of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The association is one of the last major education organizations to endorse the state-led effort spearheaded by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. ASCD expresses its goal to provide educators with professional development that helps them implement the standards in their schools and classrooms. The position and its principles serve as ASCD’s ongoing guide for this work.
Secretary Duncan revises the final Race to the Top grant criteria so that adopting the Common Core standards is not a mandatory action for receiving an award; instead, states receive bonus points on their award applications for adopting the standards. ASCD cautions that the move may be too little, too late. David Griffith, ASCD's public policy director, writes in a blog post:
"… the connection between the Common Core and RTTT is now firmly established and hard to separate. The irony is that in promoting the Common Core in its high-profile federal initiatives, the Obama administration may have blurred the line between where the state development ends and federal involvement begins and given some state leaders pause about adopting the very standards that were the goal in the first place."
ASCD receives a three-year, $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support educators’ understanding and implementation of the Common Core standards. The grant is used to develop tools and professional development for educators, including the ASCD EduCore® website. In addition, ASCD convenes meetings in four states (Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, and Utah) to hear from educators about what they need for successful standards implementation.
ASCD’s Core Connection e-newsletter, which is published every two weeks, provides educators with news and updates about the Common Core State Standards and their implementation across the states. Topics addressed include everything from development of the Common Core assessments to opposition to the standards.
ASCD emphasizes that the Common Core State Standards on their own will not prepare the nation’s children for college, career, and citizenship success. Instead, a whole child approach to education (PDF) is essential to realizing the promise of the standards. Only when students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged will they be able to meet our highest expectations and realize their fullest potential.
"… the standards themselves are necessary but insufficient for real improvement for each child. Standards, no matter how high, do not actually increase student achievement. Nor do they solve hunger. They cannot defeat bullying or boredom, ineffective teaching or leadership. Only when implemented within a more comprehensive, deliberate school improvement effort will they exert the influence on student success which past standards movements have failed to achieve."
With the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ASCD launches its EduCore website, which provides educators with free, evidence-based resources, strategies, formative assessment lessons, and videos to help with their transition to the Common Core State Standards.
Fulfilling the Promise of the Common Core State Standards: Moving from Adoption to Implementation to Sustainability reports on the feedback and information that ASCD gathered from educators in the field about Common Core implementation.
ASCD Executive Director Dr. Gene R. Carter notes in the report:
"Rapid adoption of the Common Core standards has outstripped both professional and public understanding of the standards and their potential for changing the learning and teaching paradigm. It is essential that district and school leaders have the opportunity to learn about the standards and raise questions that will help guide their transition, implementation, and communication strategies."
Based on the feedback from educators, the report offers several recommendations for successfully transitioning to the new standards. Among them:
ASCD receives a follow-up, two-year grant of $250,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide educators with free, ongoing, virtual professional development training focused on the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards. The professional learning courses and virtual learning communities cover math, English language arts literacy, literacy shifts for science, and literacy shifts for social science.
ASCD’s fall issue of Policy Priorities explores the assessments being developed by the two Common Core assessment consortia. The publication examines what it will take for the consortia to deliver on their ambitious goal to create next-generation assessments that are better able to measure deeper learning and assess students’ abilities to apply standards in a real-world context. The issue covers the need for changes in teacher training and preparation to the cost of technology enhancements required to implement the new computer-based tests. It also interviews local educators about the effect of the Common Core standards and assessments in their schools and communities.
Rumors and myths about the CCSS have run rampant, causing confusion among educators, policymakers, and the public. To alleviate some of the confusion, ASCD’s October issue of Policy Points (PDF) clarifies what the standards are and are not and tackles these myths head-on. The publication presents straightforward facts about the standards’ implementation costs, the assessments being developed, student privacy concerns, and the role of local schools and districts.
ASCD’s Virtual Learning Network, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides educators with ongoing virtual professional development to assist them with curriculum building, assessments, and the instructional shifts required when implementing the Common Core State Standards. The network offers a series of free webinars, led by ASCD Faculty experts in mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies, and provides resources that can be used in the classroom. All webinars are archived online, enabling educators to participate at any time.
ASCD hosts four Common Core Leadership Summits in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, and Alabama. These free, day-long collaborative workshops provide educators with resources related to the standards and aligned assessments, as well as communication and outreach strategies to help parents and the community understand what the Common Core State Standards mean for students and schools. Additionally, the summits allow time for educators to collaborate with colleagues to assess state and local needs and discuss their implementation plans.
ASCD’s May issue of Policy Points (PDF) provides basic information about the Common Core State Standards to inform educators’ discussions with colleagues, parents, community members, and policymakers. The issue includes information about standards implementation, the development of standards-aligned tests, special populations of students and the Common Core, and public and educator opinion of the standards. A special section outlines key considerations and concerns that education leaders will have to address as they make the standards a reality, from determining which instructional resources are truly aligned with the standards to incorporating Common Core assessment results into accountability systems.
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