Article by Blaine Conley, TVSC Assistant Superintendent
Over the course of the past few months, issues such as Indiana’s rejection of the Common Core State Standards and the creation of specific Indiana College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) has been at the center of debate. Now that the dust has settled and our standards are in place, the real work begins for teachers and administrators.
The underlying question has not changed: “What is the test going to look like?”
First, we need to establish what standards mean. According the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website, “Standards outline what students need to know, understand, and be able to do.” Teachers at Tippecanoe Valley will focus on collaborating at the school and district level to establish the sequence of instruction in each grade, identifying what will be taught and the duration of the lessons. IDOE has provided side-by-side layouts of the former Indiana standards and the new 2014 standards. This resource allows teachers to distinguish the differences between standards so they know how to adapt their curriculum and instruction to the new standards.
Curriculum that aligns with the new Indiana Academic Standards must be either adopted or created by teachers at the local level. This curriculum is approved by local school boards. From a curricular aspect, the new Language Arts College & Career Ready Standards focus more on non-fiction reading, reading more challenging text, and using text to provide evidence and support when writing. From the Math perspective, CCRS focuses on fewer topics within a grade level for a deeper focus, problem solving skills, and more challenging content.
Sample questions for the future assessments are being implemented as an instructional strategy by teachers to prepare students. These assessments are unlike the former ISTEP+ questions students have taken in the past. The new assessments require higher level thinking by students as they must be able to perform multiple tasks to answer questions through technology enhanced items. In a nutshell, students are moving from answering “who” or “what” questions to answering “how” and “why” questions. This is a dramatic change in how student learning and school accountability are assessed. Up until this point, students have been assessed on basic recall information.
In preparation for the changes in standards, teachers have been implementing lessons based on higher level thinking through Webb’s Depth of Knowledge for the past two years. As parents, we can encourage our students to read a variety of literature. Ask questions at home that require your child to think. For example, “Why do you think that?”, “Say more about that.” Make sure your student is reading and writing every day. If something doesn’t make sense, ask. Get involved in what is happening at school.