When I think about implementing the national standards for English language arts and mathematics, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, I am reminded of a comparison to the implementation of our national roadway system.
In the past the United States had roadways constructed and planned by each individual state. Some were well-constructed, maintained, and thoughtfully planned. Others were started when money was abundant or available but were never completed due to lack of funding. As a traveler tried to navigate the country by car, some roads were smooth, easy to travel, and accessible to all; some were filled with potholes; and others were nonexistent, with entire portions of the country being inaccessible. Then, following World War II, the federal government began to implement an interstate highway system. For the first time an automotive traveler could travel the United States with a consistent set of roadway conditions.
A similar situation has existed with the curriculum standards for student learning in the United States. Each state has been responsible for creating and implementing standards. Some states funded curriculum projects where standards were developed for learning in all subject areas for all grade levels. They produced well-written, easily navigable curriculum documents that educators could utilize and implement so that all students received a guaranteed curriculum. Other states, however, began curriculum standards projects that went unfunded and produced inferior, poorly written documents. Lastly, some states created standards only for particular grade levels, but not all grade levels, which left entire segments of the student population without access to a standardized curriculum.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative will accomplish in education what the interstate highway system accomplished for transportation. All students will be guaranteed an equitable learning journey. All teachers will have access to clearly written roadmaps for learning. And, no matter where you attend school, all student groups will have access to a standards-based core curriculum. Just as the interstate highway system was not built overnight, it will take time to implement the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Some teachers will have to quit traveling their familiar learning paths and learn to merge onto the more rigorous route identified for them, but the rewards and opportunities for students will be tremendous. Transitioning to this curriculum superhighway can be made easier when you don’t have to go it alone. aha! Process offers a number of K-12 professional development workshops as well as consulting that we can tailor to help your teachers, school, or school system transition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Let us help you plan your road map to success!