Post By Gregory A. Firn, Ed.D
Deputy Superintendent of Academics
Grand Prairie Independent School District
Grand Prairie, TX
I have yet to experience a day that I don’t receive an email, text, Linkedin, Facebook, or other social media “hit” with answers, solutions, resources, or others related to Common Core.
Akin to the advent of No Child Left Behind, the K12 space is inundated with marketing to lure those who believe that finally there is an “answer” to failed learning as well as the failure to learn. As was the case then as is the case now, there simply is not a quick or easy answer to the difficult and challenging work of educating each student to high standards.
So what’s the deal?
Having recently left North Carolina, where I served as Superintendent for over five years, and a state that moved “all in” with respect to implementation of Core, to Texas that has its own version of new, more demanding, challenging, and yes, “rigorous” standards, the challenges are similar.
My experience in North Carolina in preparation of the Core was steeped in preparing staff for instructional transformation, not so much learning about new standards. Herein lies a fundamental understanding about the new standards. That is, from my perspective, the essence or new standards is all about instruction.
What the Core is not, and can not be about, is rushing out to make purchases on additional curriculum that are advertised to achieve the Core or any subsets of the new standards. Schools and school systems are actually positioned to use, or in this case, reuse or repurpose existing resources (instructional materials including textbooks) with Core.
The charge, our charge, first and foremost is about mastery of essential skills. No longer is proficiency the standard. Our students, yours and mine, will never achieve the “best hopes” of Core if proficiency is allowed to continue as the goal. Therefore, the greatest challenge is, as stated before, mastery of the essential skills. The Core expects and requires students to apply skills, knowledge, and experiences to explore, enhance, create, and produce at a higher, more robust level. To do so necessitates a transformation of instruction. It also requires rethinking and therefore utilizing technology-based supplemental instructional programming.
One of the tools we implemented to assist with instructional capacity and transformation was Kurzweil 3000-firefly .
So, buyers beware of companies, products, and services promising to align with “Core” or will provide solutions for Core alignment, etc. Kurzweil 3000-firefly will not make that claim – they don’t have to. Rather, Kurzweil has been and will continue to be a tool to assist with mastery. Isn’t that what we want for each learner?
Join our free webinar on May 22 at 1:00 PM ET to talk with Dr. Greg Firn, former superintendent of Anson County Schools in North Carolina about implementing the CCSS.