Common Core and the challenges districts are facing when it comes to implementation continue to be in the spotlight here in Connecticut. Yesterday the state’s Common Core Task Force, charged with making recommendations for improving the quality and consistency of Common Core implementation efforts, met for the first time in Middletown — taking a first step down the road toward making Common Core implementation consistently successful for Connecticut students.
The task force, made up of teachers, administrators, parents, board of education members, and State Department of Education officials, laid the groundwork for future meetings and introduced themselves to one another.
Stonington teacher Bruce Yarnall told other task force members that he thinks there are good aspects to the Common Core, “but we need to approach cautiously.”
Jaunita Harris, a counselor in Danbury, said she hopes to bring to the table concerns teachers in her district would like to have voiced.
Westbrook teacher Diana Burns said that she’s seen great success in her classroom as to how students are responding to curricula aligned with the Common Core; however she also hears from other teachers about the struggles they are having and how overwhelmed they are feeling.
Chief Academic Officer of the State Department of Education Dianna Roberge-Wentzell said, “We need to make sure we are listening to the people who serve in closest proximity to our children.” She said the state needs to provide the supports necessary for successful implementation of Common Core, and that those supports may vary community to community.
CEA members on the task force plan to share results from a CEA survey of members on Common Core at a future meeting.
The task force co-chairs, East Hartford Superintendent Nate Quesnel and Hartford teacher Erin Wilson, told the task force that there are four areas on which the group will focus.
- Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of Common Core implementation.
- Showcasing best practices in Common Core implementation.
- Developing recommendations to deliver to the governor’s office.
- Finding solutions to problems with the roll out.
Quesnel said the task force would not be disputing the validity or adoption of Common Core or discussing additional State Department of Education initiatives associated with the Common Core, such as the Smarter Balanced assessments and the teacher and administrator evaluation systems. “If we’re going to be successful in only six meetings, we have to be very focused,” he said.
The task force hopes to arrange teams to visit different schools around the state to see firsthand the successes and challenges schools are facing.
The group plans to meet bi-weekly on Wednesdays from 4:30-6 p.m. and hopes to have a draft of its recommendations prepared by May 21. The task force’s final recommendations are due to the governor’s office by June 4.
At the task force’s next meeting on April 9, members plan to deeply analyze details of Common Core implementation strengths and weaknesses.