'Outreach' Session Offers RIDE's Take on Common Core State Standards

Approximately 125 people attend the session in the Barrington High School auditorium Tuesday night.

Paula Dillon, director of curriculum and instruction in Barrington. Credit: W.Rupp
Paula Dillon, director of curriculum and instruction in Barrington. Credit: W.Rupp

Approximately 125 Barrington parents and taxpayers were briefed about the controversial Common Core State Standards Tuesday evening, Jan. 28, at the high school. 

The “Common Core Outreach” session was presented primarily by RI Department of Education officials and four of their “ambassadors,” including Paula Dillon, the director for curriculum and instruction in Barrington.

The administrators gave a history lesson on how Common Core came to be in Rhode Island, provided a definition of Common Core, and answered questions about what will change in the classroom, how learning will be assessed, and how the district is implementing the latest standards. 

They also spoke briefly on the new assessment test for students that will be used for the first time next spring -- PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

Superintendent Michael Messore served as the emcee. He said the purpose of the “outreach” was to provide an opportunity for Barrington residents to hear about the standards straight from state and local administrators at three levels.

Mary Ann Snider of RIDE, an educator for 30 years, gave the history lesson. She said Common Core it is the outcome of discussions that started in the mid-1990s about what teachers can do best for children.

RIDE first adopted standards in the late ‘90s from the National Center for Educational Outcomes that were based on what children should know at the end of each grade. 

“It was a good and healthy start,” she said. “But we didn’t know how to parcel out expectations.”

The No Child Left Behind act than charged each state with developing grade-level expectations (GLE). Federal cash followed as Rhode Island worked with several other New England states to create the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) in 2005.

Governors and some business leaders continued to say that education still wasn’t working across the country, especially in mathematics. They charged certain education groups, including the Council for Chief State School Officers, to develop a common set of standards

“Some of best thinkers got together to determine what students needed to know,” she said.

Rhode Island contributed about 10,000 reviews, Snider said. By July of 2010, the state formally adopted the literature and math standards known as the Common Core State Standards. 

“Tonight, we want to share the content of those standards,” she said. 

Sharing the content were three of the RIDE “ambassadors” who travel to communities around the state to do these outreach sessions: Pamela O’Day, Kristen Sparfven, and Jaime Crowley. They were joined on stage by Dillon.

Among the questions answered by the education officials:

Why Common Core?

By 2018, 60 percent of all jobs will require some college education. And remediation, which costs $3.6 billion a year, results in lower wages for those who don’t complete college and reduces Americans ability to compete for jobs internationally. 

Why have common standards?

American students must prepare for success beyond local communities. That means having a common understanding in English, language arts and mathematics that aligns to college and career readiness and that are based on evidence of what students need to be successful.

What will change in the classroom? 

Teachers will still have control over what happens in classrooms with supportive assistance as needed. But that doesn’t mean content will stay the same or be taught at the same grade levels as right now. And some content will be new, some content will be eliminated, and some content will be taught at greater depths. And students will be asked to think about content in new and different ways.

What is PARCC?  

It’s the next-generation assessment test that will given to kids from grades 3 to 11. It is computer based and interactive, although a paper version will be made available to students who are not computer-literate enough to take the test online or who don’t have access to a computer.

Snider said that Rhode Island has been preparing for Common Core for several years.

“It’s not happening overnight,” she said.

During the 2012-2013 school year, she said, districts began to revise curriculum and instructions. Full implementation is set to happen this year, 2013-2014, with the PARCC test to be used for the first time in the spring of 2015. 

Click here to see a live stream of the outreach session on the Eagle News Network.

Sheila Resseger January 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM
I was at the presentation last night. One of the points discussed was that some material that was formerly taught at the fourth grade level, for example, may now be taught at the third grade level. The problem with this is that the CC is being implemented this year for the first time at all grade levels simultaneously. That means that a 3rd grader who successfully completed 2nd grade last year, will now be confronted with material that would have been taught in 4th grade but is now taught in 3rd grade. How is the teacher to support the student to work on 4th grade material without knowledge that he/she was supposed to be learning in 3rd grade? This is impossible on its face. Add to that that the expectation is that a certain amount of material needs to be covered in each school year because the PARCC testing expects each child to make one year of progress every year--this is a recipe for disaster for students who typically do well in school, and a crisis for students who struggle for any number of reasons not under their control.
Sheila Resseger January 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM
I appreciate the full reporting on the formal presentation, but I would have liked to also see coverage of the many important questions that were asked by members of the audience, some of which countered the view of RIDE and got considerable applause. That the Common Core Ambassadors spoke from a prepared script did not inspire confidence.


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