Teachers have another problem in an ongoing splurge of challenges to their performance in classrooms, from limited budgets, international rankings of their students’ test scores, Federal legislation to leave no child behind regardless, and now Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
As one public high school teacher said to his department chair, “I get it. My students do not measure up to state, national, or international competition. Will someone please tell me what to do, so they measure up. Really, I’m trying to teach better.”
As reported widely in national media and heard in teacher meetings, this has been a common lament among educators for over a decade.
The teacher’s district had just announced that students at the class and level he teaches shall be tested in the spring against CCSS. To prepare teachers for the new standards and how to reach them in classrooms, the district contracted with outside professional development (PD) consultants for a series of meetings with teachers.
In response, it is not uncommon to see teachers in such meetings texting, talking, emailing, and grading papers. They exhibit some of the same inattention these same people complain that their students use in classes.
At the same time, educators seem to have adopted the principle, This too shall pass.
In the mean time, they have started using the new words the consultants use – like Common Core – to describe and explain what they have been doing all along.
Educators also have fallen back to default red herrings tested repeatedly and found to divert attention of observers and supervisors, such as: Experts just offer pie-in-the-sky ideas from their ivory tower; They don’t understand our situation like I do; They’re just in it for the money; I’m too busy teaching my classes to pay attention to some outside know-it-all.
The district’s PD consultants were overheard to say that they faced the same problem with teachers that teachers face daily with students: Getting their attention and then holding their focus on the CCSS, not on solutions for teachers’ current problems.
The introduction of CCSS into the district schools sounds encouraging. It promises, on the surface, the likelihood of improved student academic performance.
The response of teachers seems less encouraging.
One thing appears likely, students will increasingly be tested against Common Core State Standards for at least the present.
Their scores will indicate the extent to which educators figure out how to embrace or defeat the CCSS movement, sometimes by acting more passively than aggressively.
Either way, responsibility – assigned as part of the district accepting the policy to implement related CCSS practices – for increased student academic performance scores rests with each teacher in each classroom through each lesson, irrespective of the amount or kinds of guidance and support teachers receive from anyone else.