Common Core State Standards and Assessment Initiative at Shoreline forum October 25

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The OSPI held five public forums around the state, in Yakima, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Shoreline.  Sherry S. Marlin, former Washington State PTA Finance Officer, and current Leadership Chair for Shoreline PTA Council,  reports on the Shoreline forum.

State and Shoreline PTA Leaders at OSPI Forum
Photo by Sarah Ann Woodfield
By Sherry S. Marlin

As a child, I changed schools 24 times, a total of 15 different schools by the 10th grade. I experienced firsthand the difficulties of not having common core standards statewide. Now imagine how difficult it is nationwide where the disparity is much broader.

On Monday, October 25, at the Shoreline Conference Center in Shoreline, leaders from OSPI, the Office of (Washington state) Superintendent of Public Instruction) held a public forum to speak to the Common Core Standards and Assessment Initiative, (CCSSI).

The seats were filled with parents, educators, superintendents, PTA leaders, and most compelling to me, education students from Western Washington University, I stopped counting after 15 students. 

Jessica Vavrus, Assistant Superintendent, Greta Bornemann, Math Teaching and Learning Director, and Anne Banks, Program Director were the OSPI speakers.

I wondered as I entered the meeting room, if common core standards are adopted across the nation will this alleviate the disparity and difficulties that having non-common standards causes.

The three main objectives of the forum were;
  • Common Core Standards: What is Washington State’s role in CCSSI?
  • Common State Assessment System: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
  • How can you be involved? Provide your input
The Common Core Standards Initiative began in the spring of 2009; it was a state-led initiative that included governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia. Its purpose was to develop a common core set of standards for K-12 students across the 50 states. The focus of these standards is English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The CCSS are intended to be clear, internationally benchmarked, anchored in college and career readiness, and evidence and research based.

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a collection of 31 states that have been working collaboratively since December 2009 to develop a student assessment system aligned to a common core of academic content standards to apply for a Race-to-the-Top Assessment grant. On September 2, 2010, the SBAC was awarded a four-year $160 million Race to the Top assessment grant by the US Department of Education (USED) to develop a student assessment system aligned to a common core of academic standards. Washington State is one of the 31 states that make up the SBAC.
You can provide input on whether Washington should add to the CCSS by completing an online survey at www.k12.wa.us/Corestandards/default.aspx

One question asked was why Washington should adopt these standards. 
Scott Allen, the Washington State PTA president, had three good answers to this question:

1. As conscientious consumers, Washington State should be able to save money (at least in the long run) by collaborating on curriculum development, professional development, and assessment development.

2. Something needs to change, as a remediation rate of almost 40% for math is unsustainable.

3. If you are satisfied with Washington standards, I hope you never have to move - but for our military and corporate families who move (either out of or into our state), having these standards in place (at least with the 40+ states who have signed on) will alleviate concerns about students falling behind or missing content when they do move.

Other Items of concern included:
  • How would Title I funding be tied to adoption of the Common Core State Standards?
  • What is the link between ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and CCSS?
  • How much of a hand does the federal government have in this venture?
  • How do we weigh the benefits of adoption for adults (teachers, administrators, parents) vs. students?
  • Accountability – this was a big concern – how can we assess the reliability of the proposed assessment system?
  • How will we handle the transition period, especially in terms of graduation requirements?
  • Research – where’s the actual research that proves these new standards will result in improved teaching and learning?
37 states have already adopted CCSSI; Washington has agreed to consider formal adoption. We are wise to take our time making sure that the Common Core Standards will fit the students in Washington State. I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend a public forum and intend on giving my input to OSPI.

Resources
Webinar October 28th 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM, register
The September 26th webinar is currently recorded and available

OSPI will compile all input with recommendations, in the report to the Legislature due in January 2011.

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