Viewpoint | July 2013 Digital Edition

What Does 'CCSS Aligned' Even Mean?

Schools need more than a checklist approach to the new standards.

This article appears in THE Journal's July 2013 digital edition, focused entirely on preparing for the Common Core.

I have just returned from ISTE 2013, where everything is aligned to the Common Core, even the tables and chairs.

OK, maybe not the furniture. But in my 25+ years in ed tech, I haven't seen this kind of mania--not even iPad mania. The frenzy reminds me, a bit, of the state standards movement in the 90s, where every product and lesson plan had to show how it was aligned to "the standards."

The difference between the old and new world orders, however, is that the CCSS kicks the performance requirements up a whole new level. The new standards are challenging and complex in ways that prior iterations of academic standards were not.

Which means that teachers need tools and resources that will help them and their students master these new standards. I have a concern about the ubiquitous claim of "CCSS aligned." What does that really mean? During the state standards movement, proof of alignment turned into a checklist. Third grade language arts standard 3.2.a? Check! How well does it align to the standard? Well, that's for the teacher to figure out.

A checklist approach can't happen this time around. When states across the nation are tying teacher compensation, state funding, and student graduation to performance on the CCSS assessments, schools need serious and thoughtful support--not a tally sheet. (On a side note: I truly hope that states and districts heed the advice of the Learning First Alliance, and not tie anything of consequence to the first year of CCSS assessments. Schools need a year to transition; anything less will be deeply unfair and potentially destructive.)

To help schools find the best possible CCSS resources, this month T.H.E. Journal is launching a new e-newsletter, Common Core Tech Update, where we will be sharing best practices on leveraging technology to teach and assess the new standards. To subscribe to this free monthly resource, click here. E-mail the editor, Christopher Piehler, with suggestions or questions. And, as always, please reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas on any topic.

About the Author

Therese Mageau is the former editorial director of THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].