July 2015

ImprimirCheryl Oldham is the Vice President for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The higher education community came together this week to show its continued support of high academic standards and aligned assessments in K-12 education. A joint statement from Higher Ed for Higher Standards, the National Association of System Heads, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association urges states to continue moving forward with college and career ready standards and aligned assessments.

Why is this important?

This is important because low standards in K-12 education have led to a generation of young people who believe they were prepared for life after high school when often they were not.

Let’s take a look at the data.

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The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board released this op-ed asserting the important role higher standards have played in the downward trend in remediation rates.

By The Daily Sentinel

Colorado’s move to adopt higher educational standards back in 2009 arose from an alarming number of high school graduates forced to enroll in remedial classes in college.

In the six years since, additional reforms led to more assessments, unfunded mandates and teacher accountability standards. Predictably, a backlash followed and this spring lawmakers passed a series of compromises aimed at reducing the testing load, but keeping high standards and accountability measures in place.

Meanwhile, the push for higher standards seem to be working. On Friday, The Sentinel’s Emily Shockley reported that the number of students enrolled at Colorado Mesa University who had to take remedial courses dipped from 36.2 percent in 2012-13 to 29.6 percent in 2013-14.

That’s encouraging. Any improvement is good, but it’s also a shame that nearly three in 10 CMU students have to pay tuition for remedial courses. These classes don’t earn students credit toward a degree but are necessary to get them up to speed for classes that do count. (more…)

6688778Troy Rivera, an English Language Arts teacher at University High School in Greeley, reflects on how the Common Core helped him raise the bar in the classroom and provide more rigorous instruction for his students.

By Troy Rivera

In the late 1990s, I can remember sitting in college-prep English class reading Shakespeare’s MacBeth. From the vocabulary sheets, questions, quizzes, and many more assignments to complete for this unit, I never really felt any learning occurring. I never felt challenged. I never really did any thinking. Now fast-forward 20 years.

The year is 2015. It’s a 9th grade level classroom. I’m teaching. Just recently within the past several years, our state standards took a shift and merged with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Expectations for our students shift. So, the question is, for the better, or for the worse? Before we answer that question, let’s review a few things.

As educators, we are responsible for making sure that our students are life long learners. Yes, I said it, life long learners. In order for our students to become life long learners, there is much work to be done. Our students look to us for the guidance, tools, skill sets, and knowledge on how to be successful upon leaving the classroom. We do accomplish this by providing the best education possible, for all. We set our own expectations, but we also have the expectations required for our students to match up with other student nationally.

When our state made the shift of merging CCSS into our current standards, this raised the bar for our students. By raising the bar, I was able to raise the bar in the classroom. Now, standards are expectations of what we strive for our students to be able to do in order to be productive citizens in the world. How we go about teaching, using the standards, as our map is our curriculum. Let me clear the air real quickly; standards are not curriculum, they are expectations.

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