COLORADO’S ACADEMIC STANDARDS
A 30-YEAR REVIEW ASKS: ARE THEY NO LONGER A PRIORITY?
Even if the standards movement is over, what we teach—curriculum and content—remains critical
Last winter, during one of the bargaining sessions between Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, DPS superintendent Susannah Cordova acknowledged what we seldom hear from leaders in our K-12 education space: “We have too many priorities, too many people working on those priorities, and not enough impact coming out of that.”[i]
Lest we forget, the standards movement was inspired by the belief that—along with the innumerable hopes we have for our K-12 system—at or near the top of the list was … teaching and learning. Acquiring essential skills and knowledge.
In short, education. As a priority.
Too obvious? I’m afraid not. Not in a world where our “priorities,” if the term even fits, can seem endless. The standards effort thought it vital to articulate what we expected of our schools, the broad guidelines (allowing districts, schools, and teachers to make choices about curriculum and instruction). No one said a school could not do more, but each school at least needed to do this: help students meet these standards.
That was then. Last year Colorado’s Education Leadership Council produced a 51-page report, “The State of Education,” on “the principles for a world-class education system.” Its four-page executive summary does not mention the standards. The full report makes only passing reference to what we once maintained was critical for school improvement (see section 5). It offers nearly 70 strategies, and then tries to refute the idea “that so many strategies imply a lack of focus.” Imply? Try: make obvious.
AV #195 - #197 – Looking back to 1989 – what has changed?
Here I take my third and final look back to 1989, exploring what has changed in the K-12 education system. AV #195, on alternative licensure, touched on an issue that has received much attention, our teaching shortage and how we recruit and retain teachers. AV #196 spoke to the controversy about charter schools, which also gets plenty of air time. On both matters, I see changes for the better.
In AV #197 the focus is on the most important factor in K-12 schools that receives the least attention: what we teach. The standards, it appears, are no longer a priority. I will argue why they should be, again. For one compelling reason: I believe we must stay focused on our mission. (Example: Is it to prepare students for the workplace? No – see AV #171-175). We are easily distracted and diverted. We will only succeed if we keep our eye on the ball: on what we teach, and what students learn.
1. Why so little attention to the standards?
One reason: policymakers and the press—and the public, except for that blip when the Common Core State Standards were a hot topic—have moved on to address more “newsworthy” issues. Strikes, salaries, shootings, safety. In Sunday’s Denver Post (7/28) – cyberbullying, and teen addiction to vaping.
Teachers, though, have not moved on. Here is where “our” voice matters—and I do put on my teacher-hat for this newsletter. We know we are better off with clear goals, with well-defined academic expectations. The standards never felt like a “reform” imposed from outside. They inform what we live and breathe, the subject(s) we teach, and classroom preparation. (See my file cabinets and 20-plus boxes that now command much of my basement and garage; lessons plans from 1975-on for teaching novels, plays, short stories, poems, writing, etc.) They are a guide for how we plan the 170 days we have with our students; they are a reference point for what we will teach—on Monday morning.
“The Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) are the expectations of what students need to know and be able to do at the end of each grade. They also stand as the values and content organizers of what Colorado sees as the future skills and essential knowledge for our next generation to be more successful.”
Colorado Department of Education [ii]
But did the standards movement (1989-200X – your guess is as good as mine) succeed? We can find various studies as to whether it made a difference for student outcomes during the decade when we were most committed to implementing our newly agreed upon standards. My own reading, and my own experience teaching in a Colorado public school during the years when the standards were omnipresent (recall the standards posted on our classroom walls?), assure me that it was a positive step for public education. Teachers valued the greater clarity on what we needed to teach. Students had a better sense of what they were expected to learn. Parents, too, had a point of reference. Is this being taught? Is my child learning to do this?
Implementation, of course, was imperfect. Negative consequences included a narrowing of the curriculum (reading, writing, and math—and belatedly science), and teaching to the state tests (CSAP/TCAP/CMAS). I list five articles in Addendum A that often make a powerful case against the standards. Those of us who remain advocates cannot ignore these points. To quote one of these articles, the impact of the standards on educators and students in Colorado has been “a mixed bag.”
But common sense tells us it matters to agree on what is important—in our lives, in our work. For public education, this was—and is—the key reason we are better off with clear academic expectations. It was fundamental to why the standards movement began 30 years ago. Where did we get off track?
2. Keystone Conference: “Public Education: A Shift in the Breeze” (Sept. 20-23, 1989)
As in the two previous 30-year reviews, I begin with proposals from the Keystone Conference.[iii] They represent ideas that had a strong influence on reform efforts in the 1990’s. This month I then move to the gathering of the nation’s governors—brought together by President George H.W. Bush—that took place a week after the Keystone Conference.
Here are three of the 19 public policy recommendations supported by a majority of the 225 state leaders at the conference, “Public Education: A Shift in the Breeze.” From the summary report produced by the Gates Family Foundation, which sponsored the summit. (Bold/capitals mine.)
Establish National Standards for High School Graduates. The teachers of this nation deserve an answer to their question, “What is it that the United States needs and wants? Give us specifics. Provide us with a clear set of goals and empower our principals to reach those
goals and we will do it.” 66% considered this proposal essential or important
Related to this was a recommendation that would become part of the logical follow-up once standards were developed: connecting student performance to how schools were evaluated – i.e., accountability.
Linking High School Accreditation to Outcome by 1993. Accreditation of public high schools traditionally has been dependent on appropriate physical facilities, acceptable teacher-pupil ratios, the presence of teachers and administrators who have been certified by the state, etc. By 1993, Colorado should become the first state to link outcome to accreditation, i.e., to what extent have each school’s diplomas been awarded upon the successful mastery of the central skills and knowledge prescribed by the district, state, and/or the U.S. Department of Education? 83% considered this proposal essential or important
A third and more concrete proposal became a significant focus for me in the years that followed the conference*. The language here reflects how much this school redesign was built around academic expectations for students, who would be asked to “demonstrate mastery” in key disciplines.
Coalition of Essential Schools – There is an opportunity for Colorado to become the 19th state to take part [in this national effort, redesigning schools around nine common principles, developed by Dr. Theodore Sizer of Brown University]. “Sizer’s position is that in the end the success of the restructuring effort in public education must be measured by determining the extent to which each graduating student has demonstrated a mastery of thinking well, communicating clearly verbally or in writing, computing with ease and accuracy, and such other disciplines as the nation shall determine.”
75% considered this proposal essential or important
(*In April 1990 the Gates Family Foundation committed $720,000 to support the Coalition’s work in Colorado, over several years, which led to six high schools restructuring around Coalition principals. A later grant was made to evaluate the effort.)
3. One week after the Keystone Conference, back east … in Charlottesville, VA
These ideas were hardly unique to a Colorado summit, as was evident the following weekend at a remarkable gathering of 49 governors sitting down with the President of the United States (could they do this now?), to discuss (can you believe it?) public education and the need for clear goals.
“The Road to Charlottesville – The 1989 Education Summit” (Sept. 27-28, 1989)
“One of the most important events in recent efforts to reform American schools was the historic meeting of President George [H.W.] Bush and the nation’s governors at the Charlottesville Education Summit…. Based upon the deliberations there, six national education goals were developed. They were first announced by President Bush in his State of the Union speech on January 31, 1990; six months later, the National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) was established to monitor progress towards the goals.”[iv]
"For exqmple, American students should leave the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades ‘having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including English, mathematics, science, history and geography.’ It was, writes Harvard professor of education Richard Elmore, the inauguration of a period in which there appeared to be ‘broad bipartisan support for some sort of national movement to support state and local goals and standards.’
"Between 1991 and 1992, the federal government, through the Department of Education, funded efforts to draft national curriculum standards in several subject areas.”[v]
Gov. Roy Romer, an attendee at both the Keystone and Charlottesville summits, became one of the most ardent voices for the development of state academic standards. His hard work paid off in 1993; that spring, the Colorado legislature passed the standards bill.
“House Bill 93-1313 initiated standards based education Colorado. The statute required the state to create standards in reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, civics, geography, economics, art, music and physical education. The statute also originated the Colorado student assessment program in 1996. (From the Colorado Department of Education, “History and Development Process for the Colorado Academic Standards.”[vi])
By 1995 Colorado’s standards were in place, and in 1997 our 4th graders took the first state test aligned to those standards. Romer’s commitment to this effort never wavered, and his successor, Gov. Bill Owens, tied his administration’s focus on accountability to the standards. Commissioners of Education William Moloney (1997-2007) and Dwight Jones (2007-2010) stayed the course.
Several developments and adjustments followed, including:
2008 – Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K) called for the State Board to adopt new standards for all major academic areas.
2009 – The Colorado State Board adopted the revised Colorado Academic Standards, Dec. 10, 2009.
2010 – August – “The Colorado State Board of Education adopts the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts.”[vii]
2010 – December – “CDE re-released the Colorado Academic Standards in mathematics and reading, writing and communicating inclusive of the entirety of the Common Core State Standards.”[viii]
2018 – “The State Board of Education approved revisions to the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), as required by statute.”[ix] These will become the 2020 Colorado Academic Standards.
2018-20 – District transition: “Opportunity for districts to review and revise local standards, curriculum, and assessments to align with the revised and adopted 2020 Colorado Academic Standards.”[x]
(For more on these standards and CDE’s current work towards full implementation next year, see: http://www.cde.state.co.us/standardsandinstruction/standards.)
4. A brief and inadequate summary of how the standards movement lost its mojo
In a word, politics. When I returned to the classroom to teach English in the fall of 2001, I would have said that the standards movement was strong. George W. Bush had become President earlier that year. Over the next few years I heard a few teachers associate Republicans, No Child Left Behind, and the standards as all of a piece–as Washington’s agenda, but this felt like a partisan response, not one that came from our classroom experience. Equally political was the reaction to President Barak Obama eight years later, leading to the unfair accusation that Race to the Top, and in particular the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), represented the U.S. Department of Education “acting like the nation’s school board.” Although the Colorado Department of Education and our State Board have emphasized that we have authored our own state standards, enough doubts persist that this has all been done to us by the federal government to have tainted what in 1989 had been a bipartisan initiative.
The standards have survived, but politicians rarely mention them. Advocacy from the governor’s office seems a distant memory. CDE does its standards work almost on the quiet—as if the less attention to it, the better.
5. “The State of Education” – from Colorado’s Education Leadership Council (Dec. 2018)
A prominent example of how the standards have almost disappeared among many other concerns is the “The State of Education.”[i] My own view is that its “vision” of the K-12 system reflects our current muddled and extensive set of what we pretend to call our “priorities.”
Gov. Hickenlooper signs executive order that redesigns the state’s
Education Leadership Council
DENVER — Friday, June 23, 2017 — “We’re pulling together many of the best minds in education, government and workforce to create a broad strategic vision that includes all levels of education - from preschool through college and beyond - in the state of Colorado,” said Governor John Hickenlooper.
A year ago, after reading “A new vision for Colorado schools: State of Education”[xii] in The Denver Post, I sent in this letter to the editor.
Education priorities amiss
In the commentary by Lt. Gov. Donna Lynn and Bob Rankin, co-chair of the State of Education, we hear almost nothing about Colorado schools, and nothing about academic standards and accountability (not long ago central to efforts to improve K-12 education in our state — where have you gone Roy Romer and Bill Owens?).
The focus is the “education system” (mentioned six times). They hope our vision keeps in mind “the workforce,” “training,” “career changes,” “the demands of the labor market,” “a living wage,” and “jobs of the future.” Let’s hope classrooms and schools, teaching and learning, remain central to any new vision. (The Denver Post, Aug. 14, 2018)
With the full report from the Education Leadership Council now available, my critique is more specific: where are Colorado’s Academic Standards? The report’s executive summary speaks of “content knowledge” and “skill development,” but not in reference to the standards. Three bullets state:
· “Drive student-directed learning experiences to essential skills” (p. 6). (All bold mine)
This is au courant, and it has some merit, but it neglects to point out that first of all, adults need to establish what those essential skills are. “Student-directed learning” can take off in a million directions, many of them light years away from the “essential skills” that our standards movement put in writing.
· “Create a public-private partnership that connects educators with practitioners who can engage with students to connect content knowledge with real-world skill development and application” (p. 7).
Good grief—as if “content-knowledge” and valuable “skill development” can’t take place during most of a student’s K-12 years without the business community and apprenticeships. Gov. Hickenlooper, with his push for CareerWise—juniors and seniors don’t need all that time in school—would have loved this.
- With K-12 and higher education as partners, shift the emphasis away from seat time toward competency and skill development to better prepare students for the rapidly changing economy” (p. 7).
From Introduction to “The Business of Education – is Education,” winter, 2018
“I gather these newsletters as both a warning—and as an argument for education to stay true to its mission, which is not to train future workers. Gov. John Hickenlooper has used the bully pulpit to suggest it is.… Have we abandoned our goal to see students meet the Colorado Academic Standards, an essential feature of legislation signed by governors Romer, Owens, and Ritter? Have we reduced the larger vision of schooling to be all about career prep?”
This fashionable theme—also consistent with Hickenlooper’s focus—pervades “The State of Education” (topic of Another View’s series on “The Business of Education – is Education,” AV#171-175. See box.) The standards movement did not ignore the connection between what “a student should know and be able to do” with what happens after high school. But its “vision” was closer to educating for LIFE, not merely for WORK.
The full document of “The State of Education” lists five “student competencies,” which includes this one:
- Academic: proficient in Colorado academic standards
Hard to see it as priority when it appears along with four other “competency categories”:
• Personal: self-aware, flexible, resilient, adaptive
• Entrepreneurial: critical thinker, problem solver, creative, curious
• Professional: takes responsibility, leads others, manages tasks and time well
• Civic: collaborative, culturally aware, civically engaged, effective communicator
Especially hard to call it a priority when we see it as part of the massive laundry list–I mean “the principles of our ideal education system”–in the report (see Addendum B.) Maybe we should feel lucky the report even touched on the standards.
We get 51 pages covering the landscape--without providing any direction. No clarity on what is most important about a K-12 education. I am reminded of the facetious answer to the QUESTION: What is the mission of public education? ANSWER: We just say yes.
6. Calls for a renewed focus on standards and curriculum
I close on a more positive note. Here I present today’s voices—as recent as this month’s Atlantic magazine—as well one state’s attention to teaching and learning. Here you see a reform agenda that is not 30-years old, but one that still insists: what we teach is and must be a priority. I merely quote a few passages from several articles (links below) that might be of interest. You might note that a couple of these voices come from “the right of center” (Petrilli, Bennett). Perhaps that reflects how our most liberal reformers have hurt their credibility and impact by drifting away from teaching and learning issues. This should not be a partisan issue. Not when we are talking about the purpose of schools. When I hear an articulate call for a focus on what we teach—putting standards and curriculum discussions front and center—I am cheering.
I can assure you it is front and center for every teacher prepping, right now, for the first week of school.
Excerpts. Bold mine.
“The Radical Case for Teaching Kids Stuff”
“In the early grades, U.S. schools value reading-comprehension skills over knowledge.
The results are devastating, especially for poor kids.”
by Natalie Wexler, The Atlantic, August 2019 (pages 20-24)
“… American elementary education has been shaped by a theory that goes like this: Reading—a term used to mean not just matching letters to sounds but also comprehension—can be taught in a manner completely disconnected from content. Use simple texts to teach children how to find the main idea, make inferences, draw conclusions, and so on, and eventually they’ll be able to apply those skills to grasp the meaning of anything put in front of them.
“… despite the enormous expenditure of time and resources on reading, American children haven’t become better readers. For the past 20 years, only about a third of students have scored at or above the proficient level on national tests. For low-income and minority kids, the picture is especially bleak…
“All of which raises a disturbing question: What if the medicine we have been prescribing is only making matters worse, particularly for poor children? What if the best way to boost reading comprehension is not to drill kids on discrete skills but to teach them, as early as possible, the very things we’ve marginalized—including history, science, and other content that could build the knowledge and vocabulary they need to understand both written texts and the world around them?”
Natalie Wexler is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. She is the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—And How to Fix It.
“What education reformers believe”
by Mike Petrilli, Flypaper, Thomas B. Fordham Institute (3/13/2019)
What “reformers” believe
· Good schools deliver strong results for students—and all schools should be held to account for their results.
… America today has too many schools that are safe and inviting places with caring adults and plenty of resources, but where students don’t learn very much over the course of the year. Those cannot be considered good schools, and their failure to meet their foremost educational mission must be made clear to parents and the community and addressed by public authorities.
· Our schools as a whole could be delivering much stronger results for all their students, but especially for disadvantaged children. Ultimately, we want our schools to help young people prepare for success in some form of postsecondary education or training, for active participation in our democracy, and for a family-sustaining career. We reformers look at America’s student outcomes and see both the need and the possibility for dramatically better performance. We find it unacceptable one- that only about third of students reach proficient levels in reading and math …
In brief, we envision a pluralistic system of schools in America that produces much better outcomes for students. Based on research evidence, and hard-earned experience, we see the following state policy levers as essential for achieving this vision:
Standards, assessments, and accountability
Academic standards that aim for readiness in college, career, and citizenship. These standards—in English language arts and math, but also science, history, civics, and other academic subjects—set the foundation for appropriately challenging curriculum and instruction. They also identify the key knowledge and skills that students need to be on track for success after high school—and make it possible to determine if and when students are falling behind.
Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Education Commission of the States.
Fordham-Hoover Education 20/20 speaker series – William J. Bennett (6/2019)
“Dr. Bennett return[s] to the original question: What is the purpose of school?” (Bold mine)
“He argues that conservatives must rally behind a unified vision of comprehensive content and curriculum reform, and that states must take the lead in making such a vision real. He contends that a content-rich curriculum must be central to any true answer to this fundamental question and asserts that it’s time to re-build a conservative education consensus with content at its core. Too often, Bennett observes, conservatives have lauded school choice while neglecting other essentials. Often teamed up with liberals, they’ve made important progress on choice, which remains crucial, but is no panacea. Conservatives have also made great progress—again, often in joint efforts with liberals—on standards and accountability, although implementation has often been stymied by botched federal interference and an overreliance on test scores that has alienated parents and teachers. Today, we find liberals generally pursuing very different agendas, to the detriment of student learning.
“A robust body of shared knowledge, led at the state level, based on comprehensive content and curriculum reform, is vital to both an individual’s ability to succeed and a society’s ability to thrive, and agreement on that precept can serve as a unifying vision for conservatives and a vehicle for promoting other reforms.”
William J. Bennett served as the U.S. Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Ronald Reagan.
“Don't Give Up on Curriculum Reform Just Yet”
by Thomas J. Kane and David M. Steiner (Education Week, 4/11/2019)
“… we both agree that now is not the time to give up on curriculum reform and move on, as has happened so often in U.S. education in the past. Rather, we urge states, districts, and the philanthropic community to understand the magnitude of the transformation that new curricula require and to identify the package of support teachers and principals need to reorient their daily work.
“The need for more-rigorous curricula is especially urgent for low-income children. As a report last year from TNTP notes, ‘Students spent more than 500 hours per school year on assignments that weren't appropriate for their grade and with instruction that didn't ask enough of them—the equivalent of six months of wasted class time in each core subject.’ Still more concerning is the striking disparity between classrooms of wealthy and of low-income students: ‘Classrooms that served predominantly students from higher income backgrounds spent twice as much time on grade-appropriate assignments and five times as much time with strong instruction, compared to classrooms with predominantly students from low-income backgrounds.’
“… the worst thing we could do now would be to conclude that teaching rigorous, demanding academic content to all our students can't work…. To close the book on curricula now would be equivalent to closing the book on learning. Curriculum is the foundation for what students and teachers do together every day.”
Thomas J. Kane is the Walter H. Gale professor of education and the faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. David M. Steiner is the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and a professor of education at the university.
“Louisiana Threads the Needle on Ed Reform-Launching a coherent curriculum in a local-control state”
by Robert Pondiscio, Education Next (Fall 2017) (Bold mine)
“… in the last year, education leaders from across the country have beaten a path here to see what they might learn from state education superintendent John White; his assistant superintendent of academics, Rebecca Kockler; and their colleagues. Together, this team has quietly engineered a system of curriculum-driven reforms that have prompted Louisiana’s public school teachers to change the quality of their instruction in measurable and observable ways. These advances are unmatched in other states that, like Louisiana, have adopted Common Core or similar standards.
UPDATE: This trend did not continue in 2017. 4th grade NAEP reading and math scores in Louisiana declined from 2015-2017. Still, overall, for grades 4 & 8, scores are up from 2003.
The linchpin of the state’s work has been providing incentives for districts and schools statewide to adopt and implement a high-quality and coherent curriculum, particularly in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, and to use that curriculum as the hook on which everything else hangs: assessment, professional development, and teacher training.…The state has also posted tantalizing gains in student outcomes: Louisiana 4th graders showed the highest growth among all states on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, and the second-highest in math … other states are taking notice and may be following Louisiana’s lead.
We saw consistently higher results in Louisiana,” says Julia Kaufman, a RAND policy researcher. “There were occasional high points in other states, but we kept seeing this difference between Louisiana [teachers] and other teachers, which is why we decided to write the report. We just thought there was a story there.”
We saw consistently higher results in Louisiana,” says Julia Kaufman, a RAND policy researcher. “There were occasional high points in other states, but we kept seeing this difference between Louisiana [teachers] and other teachers, which is why we decided to write the report. We just thought there was a story there.”
There is a story, and it’s about curriculum—perhaps the last, best, and almost entirely un-pulled education-reform lever. Despite persuasive evidence suggesting that a high-quality curriculum is a more cost-effective means of improving student outcomes than many more-popular ed-reform measures, such as merit pay for teachers or reducing class size, states have largely ignored curriculum reform.
“People underestimate the power of curriculum. It’s like buying a new water heater. It’s not like getting a new kitchen,” says Litsy Witkowski, chief of staff for academic content at the Louisiana Department of Education. “It’s just not sexy.”
It’s no secret that curriculum choices can be a significant factor in raising academic success, as Massachusetts has demonstrated for nearly 25 years. The state’s landmark 1993 Education Reform Act introduced not only high academic standards, accountability, and enhanced school choice, but curriculum frameworks with a subject-by-subject outline of the material intended to form the basis of local curricula statewide. Massachusetts has led the nation in student achievement ever since…..
“ we teach isn’t some sidebar issue in American education. It is American education,” [David] Steiner observes. “The track record of top-performing countries, early evidence of positive effects from faithful implementation of high-quality curricula here in the United States, and the persistent evidence that our classrooms are under-challenging our students at every level compel us to put materials that we use to teach at the core of serious education reform.”
Criticisms of and warnings against the standards: from 1999, 2011, 2016, 2017, and 2018
“Why Students Lose When Tougher Standards Win”
A Conversation with Alfie Kohn, Education Leadership, September 1999
“Is It Time to Rethink Standards?”
By Joshua Starr, Education Week, Sept. 16, 2016
“What the Standards-Based Movement Got Wrong - We can modernize academic standards with three simple questions,” By Jenny Froehle, Education Week, Nov. 28, 2017
“How Academic Standards Can Hold Students Back”
By Natalie Wexler, Forbes Magazine, Dec. 5, 2018
Colorado Education Leadership Council’s “The State of Education” (2018)
From the Executive Summary (pages 5-6)
The principles for a world-class education system were developed through tremendous input from
roughly 40 key stakeholders around the state and tested against input gathered from our public survey
and 70+ roundtable discussions. The principles fall under four major drivers of change. We believe each driver of change represents a necessary area for shared focus and meaningful progress if we want to achieve a world-class education system. The drivers of change and principles are summarized here:
Responsive systems that produce agile learners:
• Value how to think and learn in addition to what to learn
• Devolve decision-making authority, maintaining accountability for rigorous outcomes
• Provide access to high-quality, varied learning experiences
• Offer differentiated, flexible funding based on student need
Robust community and family partnerships to ensure all students are ready to learn:
• Support capable and caring adults in and out of school
• Nurture students’ physical, mental, social, and emotional health
• Provide safe, inclusive, and culturally-responsive environments
• Build connections between students, school community, and greater community
Well-supported educators and leaders:
• Receive respect and support for the teaching profession
• Collaborate on decision making with administrators
• Utilize training and tools to create inclusive learning environments
• Prosper from effective professional learning and career growth opportunities
Cross-sector partnerships that support student learning* and transitions:
• Provide educational opportunities focused on critical transitions
• Support multiple pathways to and through postsecondary training and higher education
• Drive student-directed learning experiences toward essential skills
• Inform career and workforce readiness via community and industry engagement
MY COMMENT: A misnomer. See pages 41-51. Little on learning, much on “industry and cross-sector partnerships,” “exposure to the business world,” “postsecondary pathways such as apprenticeships and certificates,” “work-based learning or experiential endeavors for which students earn credit,” “careers and workforce readiness informed by industry ….”
MY COMMENT: On page 44 we read: “Principle 2: Multiple, viable postsecondary and higher education pathways are explored by students and valued by all.” This is followed by several strategies. But it does not ring true, as it fails to recognize the low academic achievement of such a huge percentage of our 11th and 12th graders. See AV#183 - Remediation rates suggest grad rates will fall, where the average ACT and/or SAT scores often fall short of our Graduation Guidelines for 2021. More on this in my next newsletter.
Previous newsletters on the standards
AV #20 – Standards, the Arts, Grading Schools – And a Balanced Curriculum (April 26, 2000)
AV #21 – Education Reform- Defining Our Terms – Standards (May 25, 2000)
“Rather than state what we mean by education reform, too many of us remain disingenuous and vague. We wave the flag of reform, we say we’re for it, but we don’t present the details. We would do better if we said: this is what we mean, this is what we’re for—and why.”
AV #82 – Implementing Common Core Standards in Language Arts – (Aug. 27, 2011)
AV #105 – Colorado’s Writing Standards – Why I believe we’re headed in the wrong direction –
Colorado’s writing standards and high school expectations frown on students finding their voice (Dec. 3, 2013)
AV #130 – The basis of a well-rounded liberal arts education for K-12: Colorado’s Standards (May 13, 2015)
[i] Colorado Standards – Academic Standards - https://www.cde.state.co.us/standardsandinstruction/coloradostandards-academicstandards
[ii] “Public Education: A Shift in the Breeze” - September 20-23, 1989 – Keystone Conference
“In the fall of 1989, the Gates Family Foundation convened the conference at the ski resort town of Keystone, with the stated purpose to bring together a critical mass of Colorado’s leaders with the nation’s leading experts on educational reform in order that the State’s leaders can learn first-hand about the successful reforms presently under way throughout the United States so that they might, if they wish, act to institute such reforms as seem to be potentially productive, throughout the state of Colorado. The conference, held September 20-23, was named “Public Education: A Shift in the Breeze.” Nine national leaders in public education, representing various efforts at educational reform, spoke to 225 leaders of the Colorado legislature, educational establishment, and various business and private sectors.
“Keynote speakers for the conference were: Dr. Ernest L. Boyer, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Senior Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson School in Princeton; Fletcher Byrom, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Koppers Company, Inc.; Dr. Saul Cooperman, Commissioner of Education for the State of New Jersey; Dr. John Goodlad, author of 22 books and the Director of the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Renewal; Dr. Frank Newman, President of the Education Commission of the States; Dr. Ruth Randall, Commissioner of Education for the State of Minnesota; Roy Romer, Governor of Colorado; Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Dr. Theodore R. Sizer, Chairman of the Education Department at Brown University and Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools; and Dr. William Youngblood, Principal of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.”
FROM “On the Road of Innovation: Colorado’s Charter School Law Turns 20,” Independence Institute, June 2013
[x] CAS District Transition, http://www.cde.state.co.us/standardsandinstruction/cas-district-transition
[xii] “Colorado schools need a new vision,” Donna Lynne and Bob Rankin, The Denver Post, Aug. 7, 2018. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/08/06/colorado-schools-need-a-new-vision/
[i] Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado, Jan. 9, 2019, https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2019/01/09/denver-has-1-administrator-for-every-7-5-instructional-staff-far-above-state-average/