Author: future-forward-colorado

Colorado business leaders, including Jesus Salazar of Credera and Kelly Brough of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, support the Colorado Academic Standards because they raise the bar for our students. These higher standards will better prepare Colorado’s students for the rigors of college and the workforce, and ultimately strengthen our pipeline of homegrown, skilled workers.

But don’t take our word for it. Hear what the local business community has to say.

Check out this new video from our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the importance of high academic standards.

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Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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

Another summer has come and gone and students across the country are getting acclimated to new teachers, new classrooms, new books, and new friends. The beginning of this school year provides us with an opportunity to look back over the past 12 months at the successes and the challenges as high education standards were implemented across the country. Despite what you may have heard, the 2014–2015 school year was an overwhelming success for high standards and, more importantly, for students being taught necessary skills to thrive beyond high school.

Much of the media coverage about the Common Core State Standards would make you believe that states are running away from the standards left and right. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, no states repealed the standards during their 2015 legislative sessions. That’s right. None. In fact, teachers are using the Common Core State Standards (or their equivalent in some states) in classrooms from coast to coast, and students are beginning to reap the benefits. (Read The 74 Flashcards: 20 Basic Things to Know About the Common Core)

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Kevin Knudsen is a professor of mathematics at the University of Florida

Math can’t catch a break. These days, people on both ends of the political spectrum are lining up to deride the Common Core standards, a set of guidelines for K-12 education in reading and mathematics. The Common Core standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. States don’t have to adopt the standards, although many did in an effort to receive funds from President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.

Conservatives oppose the guidelines because they generally dislike any suggestion that the federal government might have a role to play in public education at the state and local level; these standards, then, are perceived as a threat to local control.

Liberals, mostly via teachers’ unions, decry the use of the standards and the associated assessments to evaluate classroom instructors.

And parents of all persuasions are panicked by their sudden inability to help their children with their homework. Even comedian Louis CK got in on the discussion (via Twitter; he has since deactivated his account).  (more…)

In a recent video from Real Learning for Real Life, Colorado educators discuss the role they played in developing our state’s new high quality assessment. Check it out!

 

Why is improving our education system important for businesses’ bottom lines? As Colorado business leaders know, it’s simple: Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce. And a skilled and educated workforce is essential for U.S. businesses to remain competitive at home and abroad.

Cheryl Oldham, Vice President of Education and Workforce Policy with the US Chamber of Commerce, recently discussed this exact topic in a podcast from The Business Impact. During the interview, Oldham highlighted the importance of higher standards, accountability, and effective business engagement in our schools. Check it out.

Ik1AqEj4_400x400For as long as tests have been given, students have been dreaming up ways to get out of them. But parents usually saw through excuses and prevailed to keep kids in classrooms on exam day.

Not anymore.

As another school year begins, parents in pockets across the country, from Seattle to Long Island, are protesting what they see as excessive standardized testing. They are refusing to let their children take mandated statewide tests — an action in which anger has overtaken good judgment.

Granted, the tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law aren’t ideal. In many places, a focus on test-prep has shortchanged more effective ways of teaching. But like them or not, the tests are the most objective measures of student progress and school performance. They shouldn’t be dumped by individual parents in political protest.

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shutterstock_106380011Former teacher Lisette Partelow is tired of hearing that the Common Core Standards inhibit teacher creativity and recently put pen to paper to let people know “it’s simply not true.”

In a recent piece in US News, Partelow explained how the standards were designed to allow for flexibility and creativity in the classroom. She shared several examples to demonstrate that the standards do not define what teachers should teach or how students should learn, rather, they focus on what students need to know. Take, for instance, the Common Core math standards, which are “less concerned that students master a single prescribed approach to getting the right answer” and instead emphasize students’ understanding that there are multiple ways to solve a problem correctly.

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Photo source: TigerSwan

Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks is the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

It might be strange to hear a retired Army guy commend the new system of standardized tests given to students from elementary to high school, but if there’s one thing military personnel know well, it’s how to measure achievement and progress.

Everything that an individual does, a unit does, even the Defense Department does is measured against a known and accepted standard. That is how we determine readiness and operational success. If our standards are off, the consequences of mission failure can be very serious.

So we take great care in developing our standards, take the time to ensure that everyone who will be assessed understands the benchmarks, and then devote effort to after-action reports to learn more about our strengths and our weaknesses.

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Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post.

Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post.

Crystal Gallegos, a Pueblo educator, recently wrote an op-ed for the Denver Post expressing her support for Colorado’s new academic standards. In her opinion piece, Gallegos explains how, until recently, students’ education was largely dictated by where they lived.

This is changing thanks to the Colorado Academic Standards, which set higher expectations for students “while ensuring that where a family lives, their income, or their race or ethnicity won’t determine the quality of education a child receives.” She explains how higher standards are essential to closing achievement gaps and making sure more Colorado students graduate prepared for college and career. This means that all Colorado students, from Dolores to Fort Collins, have opportunities to excel and reach their full potential. This also means that Colorado businesses in every corner of the state have access to the homegrown workforce they need.

As Gallegos says, the Colorado Academic Standards “represent a major step forward for education in our state.” By raising the bar and setting higher expectations, we can continue to drive improvements in student achievement and secure a stronger future for Colorado.

To read Crystal’s op-ed, click here.

 

In a new video from Real Learning for Real Life, Aurora teacher, Cassie Harrelson, explains Colorado’s new math standards and the benefits for teachers and students.

appleJoanie Funderburk is in her 25th year as a math educator. She has represented Colorado on several committees with PARCC and has been an active member of the Colorado PARCC Educator Leader Cadre since Colorado became a PARCC state in 2012.

As the students of Colorado take the first round of the new state tests for math and English, many debates surrounding testing, and these tests in particular, are heating up.

As a math educator for over 25 years, including more than 19 in Colorado, I hear comments and critiques of the tests that demonstrate fear and confusion around PARCC, the testing consortium at the core of Colorado’s new assessments.

I have had the opportunity to participate in several phases of the creation of the PARCC math tests, and each time, I learned more about the test, the expectations for students, and ways that teachers could support students in being prepared for the test. These experiences gave me confidence in these tests. I hope that by explaining my reasons for this confidence, I might help alleviate some of the stress teachers, parents, and students may be feeling.

Just days after Colorado became a PARCC state in August of 2012, I traveled with about 25 other Colorado educators to Chicago to the first convening of the PARCC Educator Leader Cadre. This group met approximately twice a year, and at each convening we had the chance to ask questions, give input, and provide feedback to shape what was important to each of our states. (more…)

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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