Friday, November 2, 2012

Constructing some Deconstructing

I gave up my valuable report card day to attend a district level workshop about creating effective assessment.  It was a good workshop for getting my brain thinking, but I didn't walk away with more answers than questions.  Good formative assessments are in important to have  in light of new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Unless you teach on the moon, or perhaps Texas or Alaska, you have to have been impacted by the CCSS by now.

Most of the states, except for the two mentioned above plus a few more, are in the process of changing their state standards and state testing to follow the guidelines of the CCSS.  So far they have ELA and Math.  The CCSS are a new set of universal standards that follow a scope and sequence throughout the grade levels, K-12.


Quite a few states have been swimming in the sea of CCSS for a few years now.  Our state, Idaho, has been a little shy of jumping in.  Our state sat on the sidelines for a bit just to make sure they really had to jump in.  They decided at the end of last school year to dive in....head first...with no flotation device and pretty much no swim trunks either!

The frustrating part is that Idaho doesn't have an ESD (education service district) or a COE (county office of ed) to help oversee this process of changing over.  In states like Arizona, Washington, California, Kentucky, and North Carolina (among others) there is a 'middle man' --the county office of education--that helps organize the big stuff.  In Idaho, the individual school districts deal directly with the state.  Which means they administration passes the buck to the teaching staff.  I suppose there is a positive side to that, but when it comes to huge tasks like new state standards, it would be nice to have some education organization to help unify the districts so we are all doing the same thing.  It also means that we have to take time away from lesson planning and our students to come up with new learning targets and new assessments.

As it is now, each school district has been left to interpret the standards and create local assessments to measure student growth.  Don't get me wrong.  We will still have an annual common state test through The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium.  I don't know what those of us in K-2 will be seeing.  I personally won't miss the IRI (Idaho's state reading test for k-2).  It is an assessment tool that can only be improved upon in my opinion.

For those of you new to education, or maybe teaching in a school district that is dragging its heels...here are some sites to visit for more information about Common Core and creating assessment.

Arizona Department of Education -- they have been working on this for quite some time and have a lot of information on their state's website.

North Carolina has come up with Extended Common Core State Standards.  They took the CCSS and added to it.  They aren't exactly Learner objectives or deconstructed standards.  It looks like they just added things that they thought CCSS was missing at each grade level.

Here are some sites with lots of support information about the CCSS:

Common Core State Standards Initiative
Achieve the Core -- I like the name of this one although it's not my favorite resource.
Education Northwest --Great resource for finding some meaningful assessment tools, both formative and summative.  Dig around the site...it's full of lots of treasures!

School Improvement.com Here is a free webinar to help you learn how to create learning targets from the common core standards.

I could go on forever listing resources...but these are a good start.  I now have to put the whole assessment piece on the back burner for now and complete my 1st quarter report cards!  If you have a great resource that you find to help wade through common core, please share!