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May 17, 2011 / Thinknology

100 NYC Schools Experimenting with Core Standards

“In three years, instruction in most of the country could look a lot like what is going on at Hillcrest, one of 100 schools in New York City experimenting with new curriculum standards known as the common core.”

This is taken from article that ran in the New York Times entitled A Trial Run for School Standards That Encourage Deeper Thought.

The Core Curriculum Standards are scheduled to go into effect in 2014.  As a result of No Child Left Behind, many states lowered standards in order to meet the NCLB requirement that all students reach grade level, as measured by each state, in English and math. President Obama has expressed a desire to rewrite the law, and many experts predict the common core will be a centerpiece of the effort. The new standards give specific goals that, by the end of the 12th grade, should prepare students for college work.

It remains to be seen to what degree the standards will be implemented as it’s being pretty much left up to the states to figure out how to do it. This is by design because the federal government does not want to appear that it’s exercising too much control.

Hillcrest is the second largest school in the city’s pilot, with 3200 students. Its size and diversity; whites are a minority (4 percent), Muslims are the religious plurality (about 30 percent) and one-tenth of students are learning English, make it representative on how it might work throughout the city.

One example of how instruction is changing is in a 10th-grade English class. The teacher, Ellen Giannousis, had her students watch a filmed version of Death of a Salesman before reading the play. The objective was to have students first take in information in a medium they use for entertainment.

“It wasn’t about making things easier for the students, but about challenging them to experience a classic in a different way,” Ms. Giannousis said.

The article cites several other examples but, as with any new initiative, most want to approach it cautiously. One teacher mentioned that it’s not like you can flip a switch and have everything changed by tomorrow.

Whenever I read about these new initiatives, especially the Common Core Standards, I wonder how long it will be before it impacts adult education. Perhaps this particular initiative will be accelerated given that the GED Testing Service and Pearson will be focusing on these standards as the new GED Test is created.


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