ASCD asked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. Below, we hear from Jane Cobia, the president of Alabama ASCD, on the challenges and successes that Alabama has had with CCSS implementation.
In 2010, Alabama joined 42 states, including eight other southern states, in adopting a common set of high-quality and well-developed standards for English language arts and mathematics. Some have questioned how these standards will improve education in Alabama. The following goals set by the State Board of Education and the state superintendent of education help answer this question:
- The standards provide a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn.
- The standards enable students, parents, teachers, and stakeholders to work together to ensure all students graduate college- and career-ready.
- Alabama’s students can compete successfully in the global economy because these standards succinctly outline the skills and knowledge students need for today’s jobs.
- The standards were developed by practicing educators and educational entities and incorporate the best and highest quality of existing state, national, and international standards.
- By providing innovative professional development for Alabama’s teachers and acquiring teaching and learning resources that are aligned with the new standards, Alabama will be poised to offer world-class education for all students.
The standards establish what students need to learn, but do not tell teachers how to teach. Teachers will continue to create lesson plans and tailor instruction to their students’ unique needs. Implementation decisions will remain local. Teachers and administrators will determine how the standards should be taught and will establish a curriculum that allows for flexibility and creativity.
Alabama has chosen to phase in the initiative. The implementation of the math standards is required for school year 2012–13. Many Alabama teachers and administrators are involved in ongoing training sessions about the standards’ implementation that include an overview and expectations, the actual implementation, and assessment. Implementation of the English language arts standards is required for school year 2013–14, at which time Alabama educators will follow the same training model.
One great resource and support for this transition is The Alabama Learning Exchange. This website has practical ideas and examples of alignment and lessons for math and language arts.
A unique training strategy Alabama is implementing is the use of Regional Support Teams. On each of these 11 teams are representatives from the Alabama State Department of Education, university inservice centers, and Alabama ASCD. These Regional Support Teams meet monthly and are tasked with addressing weaknesses in 11 different areas for schools and districts. Quarterly meetings are also being conducted in four locations across the state for directors of curriculum and instruction and college and university partners. This is one way to make sure the same message is being transmitted to those involved.
The College- and Career-Ready Initiative is a common-sense first step toward ensuring Alabama’s children obtain the best-possible education no matter where they live. With clear academic expectations for each grade level, teachers, parents, and students can work together toward shared goals. Alabama’s students need to be college- and career-ready, and this initiative will provide all students with the opportunity to be successful.
For more information on the Common Core resources ASCD has to offer, visit www.ascd.org/commoncore.