I wanted to begin part 3 of this series with a couple of quotes taken from the responses to the first two blog posts in this series.

Part 2 Kayyawn2 wrote:

“Even so, the “massiveness” problem, so to speak, has nothing really to do with how many standards or objectives there are. Rather, it lies with including “rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills.” The massive has to do with the Core Standards lists as what makes up a proficient student: capable of reasoning abstractly and quantitatively; construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace; use appropriate tools strategically; attend to precision; look for and make use of structure; look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. I don’t know about you, but to me that is a lot! The massiveness of the standards comes as the ‘balanced combination of procedures and understanding.”

And in Part 1 a commenter wrote:

Thus, I ask, “Is it too much to ask the “all knowing elite” to discuss with the teachers the needs of both students and teachers in order to get valuable academics understood and taught?” There is no magic pill. We are dealing with humans and real-life situations. Teachers can be familiar with whatever is thrown out there. We can ask ourselves all day long, “What materials and resources will I need?” but money for supplies/aides, time, and support will go a long way in helping to accomplish teaching these “simple” 26 math or 42 language objectives. So, yes, expecting the teachers to always be the ones, only ones, to give a considerable amount of work, time, own money, sweat and tears; is expecting too much. There is only so much time in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, and months in a given school year.

Both of these comments do a better job of illustrating my point than I ever could. The complexity of teaching is much more than just a set of standards and in this case the issue is not the massiveness of the Common Core State Standards, rather the issue relates to the massive job teachers face every day to ensure those core concepts are mastered by each student; a nearly impossible task that has contributed to the formation and perpetuation of an achievement gap.

For far to long we have addressed the student achievement gap from the macro prospective. We create laws that mandate performance improvement through testing. Expensive programs are created by enterprising companies and sold to our most at risk schools with the simple intention of profiting from the Title funds meant to level the playing field. Books are written and gurus arise to stand and deliver sermons for success. Teachers are inundated with solutions that replace solutions that replace solutions. With so many solutions, experts, programs and dollars spent, why do we have so few examples of real success?

In order to close the “macro” achievement gap, we must first look at the “micro” gap that exists in our schools: this is the gap between a teacher’s love of teaching and their ability to monitor student performance relative to the core. Ponder that for a moment and ask yourself…does that make any sense to you? What happens when a dedicated teacher ignores or minimizes the core or fails to adequately assess and monitor a student’s performance relative to the core? What happens to a student when this occurs year over year, knowing the CCSS uses a scaffolding structure? Ultimately, what, in terms of academic content, is a teacher hired to teach? If the answer to that last question is the core, why aren’t we monitoring student performance relative to the core? Why don’t we provide parents with a breakdown of the core concepts and their child’s level of proficiency on each? If we could address student achievement at this “micro” level and if there were tools to help teachers bridge the micro gap, what would happen to the macro achievement gap?

This series of questions led to an often-asked series of rhetorical questions; Wouldn’t it be great if…

· teachers could monitor student performance relative to the core?
· teachers could create and share common formative assessments?
· teachers could connect and collaborate with other colleagues all over the country?
· parents had access to the core standards and were notified of their child’s mastery of the standards?
· teachers had tools that could make assessing students fast and efficient?
· we could really address the issues that make mastery of the core standards such a massive job?

One last question…wouldn’t it be great if a tool existed that addresses all of the questions from above? If it did, we just might be able to bridge the micro gap and close the macro gap while addressing kayyawn2’s point:

“Yes, delivery of the content is everything. It isn’t whether or not a teacher can recite the Core Standards, but if he/she can deliver the Standards in a meaningful, long lasting manner, “mastery”, for each child to understand within his/her own realm of learning, to carry on to the next year and on into life. That, my friend, is massive.”

Checkout http://masteryconnect.com

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