Year in Review: Straight from the Classroom

2015 could well be described as the Year of the Teacher. Faced with more and more distortion about the implementation of Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments, educators continued to speak out strongly to set the record straight. Below is a look back that higher standards are having on classrooms, as told by the individuals closest to it—teachers.

Our Favorites from 2015:

State Teachers of the Year Defend the Common Core
Education Week
“We are united in our frustration about the maelstrom of misinformation on the Common Core State Standards that has become so pervasive as to be considered truth,” write 21 State Teachers of the Year. “The Common Core is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction…In fact, under the Common Core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.” The letter offers a strong defense of rigorous academic expectations and reflects the strong support educators have for high, comparable standards and high-quality assessments.

Alabama Teacher of the Year Says Don’t Repeal Common Core
Huntsville Times
In an open letter to state lawmakers, Alabama Teacher of the Year Ann Marie Corgill writes that repealing the state’s Common Core Standards would be “detrimental and destructive to the futures that we’re building in classrooms.” “If you truly believe in local control, please listen to those at the most local level—the classroom teachers and children who live and learn in Alabama classrooms every day.” Ultimately, opponents failed to muster support to disrupt the Common Core in Alabama. The Honesty Gap analysis found the state made some of the biggest improvements reporting accurate student-readiness information by implementing high, consistent standards and high-quality assessments.

Tennessee Embraced Common Core for a Reason
The Tennessean
The decision to adopt and implement Common Core State Standards was a decision made by Tennessee officials for Tennessee students, free from federal control, writes Karen Vogelsang, the state’s 2015 Teacher of the Year. “We (Tennesseans, not the federal government) made decisions about how the standards would be implemented and how our educators would be trained…High expectations and rigorous standards can make a difference for all students… there have been some growing pains, however to turn back at this point would be a huge mistake.” Vogelsang makes clear that implementation of the Common Core remains a state-led effort and that parents should resist calls to use the moment to turn back on the work teachers have begun.

Why You Can Feel Good About Supporting Nevada Standards
Nevada Appeal
Prior to the adoption of Common Core State Standards, academic expectations could vary widely from district to district and state to state, writes Lee Gerboth, a 16-year veteran teacher in Nevada. “With the Common Core, though the curriculum will be different from place to place, the goals will be the same…By teaching children to persevere and learning that problems can have more than one solution, we are providing Nevada children with tools that will prepare them for success in a way we never have before.” Gerboth makes clear Common Core State Standards set high learning goals for students and give teachers full control over how best to achieve them.

Teacher of the Year Prefers to Open Doors, Not Stand Behind Closed Ones
Tampa Bay Times
Beth Hess, Florida’s 2015 Teacher of the Year, says she’ll continue to implement the ideas behind Common Core State Standards, regardless of what direction policymakers go. “I really back Florida Standards/Common Core, and I have been implementing it in my classroom no matter what it’s called…We are in that transition period where it is still kind of painful, and we’re going to be there for a while because it takes a while for that to blow forward. But the work that my students are doing as a result is amazing.” Like Hess, educators who work closely with the Common Core overwhelmingly report seeing improvements in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.