July 10, 2014

CCSS — The Political "Curriculum"

Why the controversy? 

Is it political? Is it a curriculum? 

It's interesting all the controversy about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I've asked questions all along — but my major question was why Michigan had to jump on board because the Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) and the High School Content Expectations (HSCEs) already were some of the best curriculum in the United States.

Photo by http://blog.libbylevi.com/

Frequently, I would tell my staff that Michigan got it right when they rolled out the GLCEs and HSCEs several years ago. Michigan created a culture of curriculum in the 1990s when they rolled out the original Michigan Curriculum Framework (MCF) first arrived. I was a youngster in education then, but really dove headfirst into the framework, aligning my English classes with the MCF. I spent countless hours and did all I could to line things up and create lesson plans and unit plans that incorporated the "framework."

After nearly 20 years of work, Michigan now has the CCSS — or does it? The assessment program, Smarter Balanced Assessment, has been put on hold as the Michigan legislators have passed legislation and a budget that would require the development of "MEAP 2" — Michigan Educational Assessment Program #2 — because the former MEAP (we won't digress there!) is not retired. Actually, we educators don't know what the state assessment will be 10 months from now …

The main thing about the CCSS is that it requires students to problem solve and work with more rigor. And, if you're in education, you know that teachers frequently say, "These kids don't know how to think." My thought — huh? — is that if we begin early in a student's education teaching him/her "how to think," e.g. problem solve, work with rigor and more thought, that type of statement will go away.

So, to sum it all up, the only controversy I can see is that the CCSS are so similar to what we're already doing in Michigan that the final pieces (rigor, problem solving, etc.) would be easy enough to put in to place without causing a supposed major shift in curriculum (CCSS is not necessarily a new curriculum but a new thought process) and making student learning MORE POLITICAL than it already is.

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