Washington State Learning Standards (Formerly referred to as Common Core State Standards)
Online Resource: http://www.readywa.org/
Common Core State Standards ensure high school graduates are prepared for college and careers
School districts in nearly every state across America are fully implementing the Common Core State Standards. This is an important positive step forward for public education as we strive to prepare students for college and the work place.
There has been a buzz and a great deal of misinformation in the media in recent months on this issue. The biggest misconception revolves around the issue of curriculum. Common Core State Standards are not curriculum. The Common Core State Standards detail what K-12 students should know and be able to do in English/Language Arts and Mathematics at the end of each grade level. The standards are similar to those used by top-performing nations.
The other issue which seems to have gained public attention is linking the Common Core State Standards to a takeover of public education by the federal government. This view point is based on emotion and not the facts. The Common Core are standards which are consistent across the nation. How those standards are taught however, is up to Washington’s 295 school districts and more than 2,000 individual schools. Our district and Walla Walla teachers will still have the flexibility and control to set the curriculum best meeting the needs of students.
We live in a global economy and a mobile society. We see this trend with our students in Walla Walla. This year for example, we had students withdraw from Walla Walla schools and move to Hawaii, California, Oregon, and North Carolina. With the Common Core, we can be sure our students are learning the skills they need to be prepared for a successful transition to their new school districts. We owe it to Walla Walla students to provide them the skills necessary to be competent and confident in the global economy.
Right now, Washington has 25,000 unfilled jobs for highly-skilled workers –- and that number is projected to double by 2017 according to Ready Washington Coalition. We want Walla Walla students to be in a position to compete for these jobs. Teaching to the Common Core State Standards will help our students build and learn to apply real-world skills as we prepare them for college and careers.
The other connection linked to the Common Core State Standards are the new state assessments -- Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium exams in Math and English Language Arts. Students will take these rigorous exams for the first time this spring to better measure college and career readiness and establish a baseline for the future. This is a positive step for our students as we prepare them for college and careers after high school.
The new Smarter Balanced assessments will replace the Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) this year, and will also gradually replace the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) and End-of-Course exams, with full implementation in place for the Class of 2019.
This new generation of student assessments will be taken completely online, with results available to schools and families much more quickly than is currently the case. The Smarter Balanced website (www.smarterbalanced.org) has vast resources for families and educators, including sample tests showcasing the sophisticated technology used to engage students.
In Walla Walla Public Schools, we rely on multiple assessments throughout the year, not just state-mandated tests given on one day at the end of the year, to ensure that every student reaches full academic potential.
With you as our partner, we are confident we will realize our mission of helping students become educated, productive citizens and lifelong learners.