Part 2: 50 States, 50 Sets of Standards v. One Country, One Set of Standards

Part 1 here.

As I suspected, I’ve been reframing my claim as I’ve been writing and reflecting. My original claim: One country with one set of learning standards helps reduce teachers’ workload and frees up more time to talk about pedagogy.

Where I am today: One country with one set of learning standards helps reduce teachers’ workload.*

How I got there:
There is something delightfully powerful about being in a room when designers are sharing their creations – be it young scientists at a fair or teachers at a conference. I had the pleasure of facilitating a middle-level session during a recent TriState Performance Assessment Design Consortium conference. Teachers from three states shared tasks and assessments they’d designed as a part of a professional development program. Students also attended and participated in an eye-opening panel and were available for questions during a poster session.
Teachers share. There have always been task, lesson, unit, and assessment warehouses. Teacher Pay Teachers didn’t invent something new, they just monetized it. For decades, there was a teacher store in my area whose stock came entirely from retiring teachers or those leaving the profession. New teachers who bought the contents of a retiring teacher’s filing cabinet could be fairly confident the materials were quality and would work in their school as they came from local teachers. The store closed at just about the same time as the internet became ubiquitous and sharing moved online.
Now, when a teacher is looking for a task for a particular purpose, the process usually starts something like this:
  1. google the term or concept or visit a favorite website
  2. filter through search results to find something that looks interesting and applicable
  3. review the selected task to figure out if it’ll work in her state
  4. revise the task as needed to make it work in her state, for her students, and with available resources
Teachers didn’t need one set of standards to share lesson plans, units, or curriculum. One set of standards, though, makes it easier. At the PADI conference a 6th grade ELA teacher from NY could sit in on a session with an ELA teacher from CT and know that the task would align to her state standards. A teacher in a CC-adopting state can go to any number of websites:

Rest assured, I’m fully aware of the counter-claims about this level of standardization. I’ve been told several times that the coding and organization of CCLS is about publishers and technology, not teaching. I’ll leave it to those making that claim to defend it. I’m having a hard time seeing, though, how making it harder for teachers to share quality resources is a good thing.

*I’m working around to the idea that 50 versions of that one set is better than one identical set. Still mulling that over.

Part 3 here.

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