Indiana says “No More to the Common Core”

Today has been a struggle. Indiana has “officially withdrawn from the Common Core reading and math standards that were adopted by most states around the country” (WSBT 22 News, 03/24/14).  I don’t know if I liked the Common Core. I don’t know if my students would have passed the PARCC. We never got the chance to try.

What’s frustrating is that Indiana was a leader in pushing the PARCC, Common Core, and spent “Bookoo” dollars and time encouraging us teachers to stretch our students into higher level thinking and learning. We were “trained” in the history of Common Core, and told, “this is the wave of the future.” Students would be driven to “read closely” and spend time on tackling argumentative and informational texts, and teachers (in my grade) were told to use fiction sparingly, to meet the new standards.  We were to get ready for the PARCC (the standardized assessment that would replace ISTEP) and beware of the consequences if we weren’t ready. We don’t want our schools to fail — we took the bait. Many teachers took all the hype to heart, even worrying that they would lose their jobs if they were not evaluated as “effective teachers” under Common Core. No one wants to be ineffective.

Well, now the Common Core is mute in Indiana. I am left to wonder, “What next?” What standards will we use to identify students who are below, at, and above grade level? How will the curriculum change? How will teaching life change (again)? Will our students succeed under whatever new plan our state government creates?

For now, all I can do is my best: read aloud to my class, teach skills and strategies I know I’ve used to become a better reader and writer, and re-create the best lessons from the twenty years of practice I have under my belt. I will continue to teach my students to read, write, and think. It’s time to move forward. Let’s go!

Note: One of my students wrote that she had “bookoo” friends, and explained that “bookoo” means “a great amount.” I’ll use her word tonight. I love that she tried to use more descriptive words in her writing (instead of “a lot”) and I REALLY found it cute that she defined the word for us in the text. She’s learning!