Last week I spent a few days in Orlando at a very interesting meeting. The GE Foundation convened a relatively small group of business leaders, not-for-profits, and state and federal Department of Education folks to talk about Common Core Standards for College and Career Readiness.
First, about the K-12 Standards. Here is the mission: The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
The Standards developed so far include math and literacy. Forty-six states have pledged to adopt the Standards by 2014 and the New York school district has been in pilot stage.
Second, this is big! It will dramatically change K-12 education for the better (in my humble opinion). One thing that I particularly like about the initiative is that it focuses on mastery of skills — not just knowledge and memorization. It goes deep into smaller bits of information before moving on to the next, more complex concepts. That’s the good news.
But the bad news is, curricula will change. Teachers will have to be trained. Assessments will be more meaningful, but the scores — particularly early on — may be lower. Parents will have to get on board. School Administrators will lose some autonomy. The list of challenges goes on and on.
My interest in the initiative echoes that of the GE Foundation as well as all the business leaders present at the meeting. We are facing a talent shortage right now and we know it will get way worse before it gets better. Every business and every community needs a career-ready workforce, so we need to do everything we can to help young people prepare for either a sustainable job or post-secondary education.
So finally, do me a big favor, please. Watch for news of this initiative in your local community. Learn everything you can about it. Then support it!