As the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education (DESE) continues to move forward with their No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver request, many educators are concerned that if Missouri receives the waiver, the state’s common core standards will be used as the standard guiding classroom instruction in the state.
“Common core pushes abstract learning into lower elementary classes where the average student is not ready to handle the broad concepts and skills necessary for this kind of learning.” said MSTA President Ralf Trusty.
The kindergarten class of 2011-2012 will be the first class tested on the news standards, once they are in third grade.
Trusty is concerned that many students will be frustrated when they aren’t successful on the tests.
“I feel sorry for the students who will feel like failures from the get go,” he said. “I don't mind having students tested, I do that on a daily basis, but definitely not with these "high-stakes" type tests.”
The high stakes tests are expensive to administer and score, Trusty said. Not to mention the tests do not give schools and teachers turn-around time to use the results to adjust curriculum and teaching strategies for students who take the test.
“I know that our state has excellent teachers who work very had in order for our students to be successful life-time learners and become productive individuals in our society,” he said. “I just want our students to start their structured learning years as successes, not perceived failures because of one test.”
Trusty recently came across a math workbook from 1987, which taught skills in a concrete-sequential order. This process set up skills sothat students could be successful in mastering them and included time for the teacher to reteach concepts if the students weren’t understanding the concepts.
“Students were able to solve problems on a higher level because they had very good basic skills,” he said. “Have you ever heard of teaching "regrouping" in math in first grade? I taught that very lesson last month. Common core is just curriculum compaction and forces us to teach abstract skills to concrete learners.”