Is it possible for teachers to meet standards without teaching in a standardized way? This question is at the heart of the ambivalence around Common Core State Standards for many educators.
Supporters of the Common Core, including the developers and many educators, maintain that the new standards are a move away from No Child Left Behind because they focus on developing students' skills rather than specific content areas that teachers should cover. But because a standardized test will be used to evaluate how effectively students are learning those skills, the temptation to try and teach to the test still exists.
Educators say they're already feeling pressure from administrators to teach the same things at the same time in an attempt to ensure strong test results. “It certainly isn’t how you inspire teachers to stay in the classroom,” said veteran teacher Diana Laufenberg at EduCon conference hosted by Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.
Still, it often seems easier or safer to standardize instruction instead of trusting educators to engage and challenge students. But Laufenberg says there's another way. “Teach past the test to this other meaningful, creative work and you will get the test, but you’ll get all this other stuff too,” Laufenberg said. “If you only teach to the test that’s all you’ll get.”
The standards are the learning goal, the “what” of education, but there are many approaches to how those standards are taught.