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English language arts and mathematics standards

Dodge City Daily Globe

Jarrett E. Brown

September 24, 2013

USD 443 teachers adjust to state standards

English language arts and mathematics standards

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards education initiatives will change the way that teachers teach and children learn. 

In order for the goals of the initiatives to be met and for children to receive the education that will enable them to be successful at post-secondary institutions and in careers, teachers will have to receive training and development which will help them to fulfill their new responsibilities.

According to Judy Beedles-Miller, assistant superintendent of elementary education for Unified School Distict 443, and Mischel Miller, the assistant superintendent of secondary education for USD 443, the district has developed and implemented a plan for helping teachers become familiar with and adjust to the standards. 

The district’s teachers meet weekly in small groups to discuss the standards and consult with each other, in what Miller termed “professional learning communities.”

In the groups, the teachers are able to speak to colleagues who teach the same grade-level as well as colleagues who teach in lower- and higher-grade-levels.  The teachers discuss how to move students ahead in a way that ensures that all students who arrive at a given grade-level will be able to perform at the same level as their peers, Beedles-Miller said. 

“We work locally as a team.  High school teachers are working with middle school teachers.  It flows [vertically.]  It [the body of knowledge] builds through high school,” Beedles-Miller said.

Miller, who has previously been employed in smaller school districts, believes that the professional development and support that USD 443 teachers receive is more than sufficient. 

“I am very impressed with the professional development opportunities this district provides,” she said.

Thus far, the district’s teachers have been receptive to the changes in policy, according to Miller. 
“They are the ones who said this is best for kids,” Miller said.  “The teachers say that the students [are now] much further ahead.”

Garry Sigle, the executive director of the Kansas Association of American Educators (KANAAE,) a professional organization for teachers, declined to comment on how teachers in Kansas are affected by CCSS and KCCRS.  He deferred to the communications director for the national Association of American Educators (AAE.)

Alexandra Freeze, the director of communications and advocacy for KANAAE’s national organization, said that its members have expressed a variety of views about CCSS and KCCRS. 
The organization conducted a poll of its members about the implementation of the standards and the support and training that the teachers receive.  Nationally, more teachers feel that the implementation of the standards is going smoothly than those who believe that it is going poorly, Freeze said. 

There are approximately 1,500 KANAAE members in Kansas, more than 100 of which participated in the survey, according to Freeze.

“48 percent of teachers believe CCSS implementation is running smoothly, while 41 percent of teachers are neutral, and 11 percent believe implementation in their state is going poorly,” Freeze said.

“We are hearing mixed reactions from members about preparation.  Some feel prepared and some do not feel supported through the process,” Freeze said.  “Just like in any other new initiative, it’s critical that teachers are getting the professional development they need when implementing a sweeping new policy.”

“At AAE and KANAAE, we’ve provided significant resources for teachers going through the transition,” Freeze added.

Neither the national organization nor the Kansas branch has endorsed CCSS due to uncertainty about how the standards will affect teachers in the long-run.

“While the jury is still out on the implementation process and its effect on the flexibility of curriculum, KANAAE/AAE members appear to be moving in the direction of support for consistent standards,” Freeze said.