View Full Version : All NYC 100 New York Schools Try 'Common Core' Approach in Trial Run

04-25-2011, 09:52 AM
From the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/nyregion/100-new-york-schools-try-common-core-approach.html) by Fernanda Santos:

Until this year, Ena Baxter, an English teacher at Hillcrest High School (http://www.hillcrestweb.com/)[/URL] in Queens, would often have her 10th graders compose papers by summarizing a single piece of reading material.

Last month, for a paper on the influence of media on teenagers, she had them read a survey (http://www.hillcrestweb.com/) on the effects of cellphones and computers on young people’s lives, a newspaper column (http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm) on the role of social media in the Tunisian uprising and a 4,200-word magazine article titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid? (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/opinion/28iht-edcohen28.html?ref=rogercohen)”

A math teacher, José Rios, used to take a day or two on probabilities, drawing bell-shaped curves on the blackboard to illustrate the pattern known as normal distribution. This year, he stretched the lesson by a day and had students work in groups to try to draw the same type of graphic using the heights of the 15 boys in the class.

“Eventually, they figured out they couldn’t because the sample was too small,” Mr. Rios said. “They learned that the size of the sample matters, and I didn’t have to tell them.”

In three years, instruction in most of the country could look a lot like what is going on at Hillcrest, one of 100 schools in New York City experimenting with new curriculum standards known as the common core (http://www.corestandards.org/).

Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have signed on to the new standards, an ambitious set of goals that go beyond reading lists and math formulas to try to raise the bar not only on what students in every grade are expected to learn, but also on how teachers are expected to teach.

The standards, to go into effect in 2014, will replace a hodgepodge of state guidelines that have become the Achilles’ heel of the No Child Left Behind law. Many states, including New York, lowered standards in a push to meet the law’s requirement that all students reach grade level, as measured by each state, in English and math. President Obama has expressed a desire to rewrite the law, and many experts predict the common core will be a centerpiece of the effort.

The new standards give specific goals that, by the end of the 12th grade, should prepare students for college work. Book reports will ask students to analyze, not summarize. Presentations will be graded partly on how persuasively students express their ideas. History papers will require reading from multiple sources; the goal is to get students to see how beliefs and biases can influence the way different people describe the same events.

There are a number of challenges.

[URL="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/nyregion/100-new-york-schools-try-common-core-approach.html"]read more>> (http://www.corestandards.org/)