CINCINNATI—Growing numbers of teachers and parents across the country are very much in favor of the Common Core State Standards and want the implementation of these standards done right. As a result, they are calling on federal and state officials to put the brakes on the high stakes associated with Common Core assessments until the new standards are properly implemented and field-tested.
"The momentum is building to step on the accelerator of quality implementation, and put the brakes on the stakes," said AFT President Randi Weingarten during a visit to the Oyler School in Cincinnati. "Teachers everywhere are speaking out. They know these standards can transform teaching and learning. But for that to happen, they need the necessary tools and resources to effectively teach the new standards."
In the last 10 days, teachers and parents have sent more than 38,000 letters to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and state education commissioners across the nation asking them to stand with the AFT in its call for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences of Common Core tests.
Meanwhile, teachers in nearly a dozen states will stage actions in their schools today that are designed to call attention to the need for a moratorium. The actions include mobilizing members by wearing blue shirts and buttons during the school day and other activities. Among those taking action today were teachers at Oyler as well as Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Julie Sellers and Washington Teachers Union President Nathan Saunders who were at Oyler with District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to see firsthand the community learning center model and the integration of services at the school.
During her visit to the school, Weingarten said full implementation of the Common Core requires aligning standards, curriculum, teacher training, instruction and assessments. She stressed that the moratorium should not be a period of inactivity, but rather a time when states and districts should work with teachers to develop a high-quality curriculum and professional development; provide teachers and students with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms; commit financial resources to ensure its success; and engage parents and community. Then, the assessments should be field-tested to ensure that the curriculum, teaching and testing are actually aligned.
"Teachers here in Cincinnati know what educators across the country know—that this is our one chance to get it right," Weingarten said. "If we don't get the transition right, the standards are doomed to becoming another failed education reform."
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts, but some states are giving students assessments based on the standards before they have been implemented, without giving teachers the tools and resources they need to make these instructional shifts, and based on content students have never seen.
The results of an AFT poll of 800 teachers found that while 75 percent of teachers support the new standards, only 27 percent said their district has provided them with the tools and resources necessary to teach the standards. The poll found that 83 percent of teachers support a moratorium on high-stakes consequences associated with Common Core assessments.
The poll results reinforce Weingarten's call April 30 for a moratorium on the consequences—for students, teachers and schools—of Common Core-aligned assessments until the standards are properly implemented and field-tested.