In a response letter to a worried New York principal, a high school principal in Ocala, Florida wrote of her state’s enthusiastic adoption of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). There, CCSS were taken as a springboard for learning benchmarks and were developed into customized standards that meet the needs of the state. Teachers, parents, students, and community members helped the standards evolve into standards that the state as a whole–including teachers and students–are embracing. Students are thriving, as noted in her letter, and teachers are excited about their students’ progress. The standards are met as an “opportunity and a challenge, not a mandate with a fixed outcome:”
To give the standard a field test, I followed up with my twin 6-year-old grandsons who attend a Florida public school. They did not hesitate to explain it to me.
My grandsons’ sheer joy of sharing what they learned and the patience they displayed when they explained this complex standard to me demonstrated, to draw on the work of Carol Dweck, a growth mindset. Their learning of the standard had been presented as an opportunity and a challenge, not a mandate with a fixed outcome. They saw it as a building block (literally) of their education.
The other thing that impressed me was my grandsons’ command of the academic vocabulary to demonstrate and explain the standard. They used the terminology in the standard without hesitation. Not knowing the preparation of the elementary teachers in New York, I wonder if some of the teachers whose students are struggling with these concepts do not have the background and experience in teaching elementary math in this manner.
CCSS is working in Florida. Perhaps, as the author noted, it is the mindset of the teachers, parents, and educators that makes the difference–by making the standards their own, everyone embraced them.
The is the same open-minded approach that has made the new standards successful in New Hampshire.