A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards

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1 A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards

2 Overview The broad based adoption of the Common Core State Standards (Common Core) presents a challenge to any organization serving public school students: How to authentically align with the standards while preserving the best aspects of a proven model. For the last 20 years, College Summit has been at the forefront of college access and success. While College Summit programs and the Common Core share an emphasis on college and career readiness, it is not sufficient to share a common objective. For College Summit, transitioning to authentic alignment with the standards required three steps: 1. Identifying Common Core alignment opportunities through shared learning objectives, 2. Determining how to integrate the College Summit program model into a Common Core school while maintaining program coherence, and 3. Training educators and administrators to deliver the College Summit curriculum in a manner that seamlessly meets Common Core objectives at the same time. It s not just getting into college, but staying, graduating, and becoming a member of the workforce. College Summit and the Common Core address the same objective, have the same North Star: Young people, no matter their socioeconomic status, will complete high school and then graduate from college ready to pursue a career of their choosing. Through this work, College Summit has created a model for other organizations. Additionally, we have identified next steps and new alignment opportunities to be developed in future curriculum revisions. Identifying Alignment College Summit has always been focused on creating a college-going culture in the school building and in individual classrooms. Its project-based, real-world-relevant curricula provide teachers with lesson plans that focus on both college and career preparedness. The College Summit curricula address the issue as articulated by Schramm and Zalesne (2011) who wrote, too many students, especially low-income students, are not prepared for college. Record numbers of Americans have enrolled in college this past decade, but once there, they are stumbling at alarming rates and at enormous cost to themselves, their families, and their city and state tax bases. In fact, Schneider and Yin (2011) estimated that each year, college drop outs represent $3.8 billion in lost income, $566 million in lost federal taxes, and $164 million in lost state taxes. 2

3 It s not just getting into college, but staying, graduating, and becoming a member of the workforce. College Summit and the Common Core address the same objective, have the same North Star: Young people, no matter their socioeconomic status, will complete high school and then graduate from college ready to pursue a career of their choosing. This North Star guided our approach to aligning the Common Core with our work in the college access and completion arena. It also helped us recognize our own limitations in aligning our curricula with the Common Core. Organizations that serve students and wish to show alignment to the Common Core need to define alignment within the scope of their own mission. We learned that an organization must directly instruct students in both mathematics and language arts the standards that have been most explicitly articulated in the classroom in order to directly align with the Common Core. Organizations should determine how their work supports and enables mastery of some specific standards rather than how they directly align with each and every standard. In our case, we accomplished this with four Common Core Alignment Guides that provide school personnel with direct links between each College Summit lesson and the new English/language arts (ELA standards). The ELA Common Core State Standards are the culmination of a broad-based effort led by the states to create next-generation K 12 ELA standards aimed at ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers (Achieve 2010). The alignment guides connect standards from three of the four strands of ELA standards writing, speaking and listening, and language to College Summit s curricula. A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards 3

4 The alignment guide for College Summit s 12th grade curriculum highlights 37 different lessons and identifies how they each correlate to 11 different writing standards. Similarly, 26 lessons are identified that correlate to four specific speaking and listening standards. In the 9th and 10th grade College Summit courses, 36 lessons (53% of lessons in those two years) have activities that reflect the speaking and listening standard SL These examples show the strong connections between College Summit lessons and the ELA standards across the grades. In addition to aligning College Summit lessons to the standards, the guides provide Common Core related highlights and instructional suggestions to teachers. These highlights are designed to serve as a tool for educators and school leaders, and other schoollevel personnel, as they work together to keep their students on the college-and-careerready track. The alignment guides explicitly support College Summit s objective of putting all students on a path to college and career readiness. Program Coherence The Common Core are the basis for a coherent, standards-based curriculum and instructional program, with common content and skills that students should master. At the school level, all instruction and activities should lead directly back to those standards, building on their coherence and ensuring that the young people in each school are being prepared to achieve mastery of the same set of standards. Newmann and his colleagues (2001) have defined instructional program coherence as a set of interrelated programs for students and staff that are guided by a common framework for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and learning climate. In their work, they found a strong positive relationship between improving coherence and improved student achievement. Schools with highly coherent programs used a core set of strategies to harness available resources and staff energy toward a common instructional framework Aligning College Summit to the Common Core State Standards has helped us deepen our relationships with educators around the country as we work with them on College Summit and Common Core State Standard implementation in their classrooms. Says a College Summit regional school partnership manager. College Summit s Common Core Alignment Guides help teachers and school leaders monitor and build on this coherence. At the beginning of each guide is a list of the standards aligned to the lessons in that year-long course. For example, 9th and 10th grade ELA teachers can quickly see that there are four College Summit lessons during the 9th and 10th grade courses that are aligned to the speaking and listening standard SL b, which states that students work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed. 4

5 College Summit s projectbased, real-world-relevant curricula provide teachers with lesson plans that focus on both college and career preparedness and that are aligned with the Common Core. Those 9th and 10th grade teachers can take this information and plan accordingly, developing further activities that build on, and align with, this standard. The Common Core mathematics standards, particularly at the middle and high school levels, make alignment with any outside organization s work problematic unless that organization is working directly with students on grade level mathematicsrelated issues. The math standards are highly rigorous, and organizations that work with students in areas outside of mathematics, as is true with College Summit s work, will find little alignment. Educator Support Of all factors in a school, teachers have the greatest impact on their students achievement. Sawchuk (2011) summarized the research and stated that of the school factors that have been isolated for study, teachers are probably the most important determinants of how students will perform on standardized tests. Wenglinsky (2002) very specifically addressed the issues of standards when he reported that through their teachers schools can be the key mechanism for helping students meet high standards. College Summit supports its educators and program administrators throughout a series of professional development opportunities on a regional and national level. Our alignment guides include grade-specific teacher notes and resources to ensure this support continues throughout the year. Not only do teachers have an impact on achievement, but they also impact changes in school culture. College Summit s own research (College Summit 2012) revealed that schools where the most dramatic college-going culture changes had occurred were those in which school leadership had carefully selected a staff member or members to lead the movement. Given the impact that teachers can have on students, tools and resources are critical to help them ensure their students meet the demands of the Common Core. The alignment guides were developed to be one of those essential tools. A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards 5

6 The guides assist individual teachers as they work with their students through the College Summit classes and the Common Core. More importantly, they help grade level and vertical teams plan as they review and map out standards that are met across subject areas or from one grade level to the next. The ELA standards in particular were explicitly modeled on the idea of shared responsibility for students literacy development (ACT 2010). The alignment guides, with other scope and sequences and standards frameworks, can help determine what standards are taught and when they are taught. In fact, this shared responsibility aligns well with the College Summit curricula and ethos. College Summit classes are typically embedded in core subject classes or implemented as a standalone course for credit. The Common Core language arts standards have several shifts from the previous state standards. A major shift relates to the use of evidence when students speak or write about a text. As an anchor standard for reading states, Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific t e x t u a l e v i d e n c e w h e n w r i t i n g o r s p e a k i n g t o s u p p o r t c o n c l u s i o n s d r a w n f r o m t h e t e x t. To support educators as they address these shifts, the alignment guides highlight several lessons and activities in the College Summit curricula that tackle the narrative writing standards. For example, standards W and W state that students will write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. The College Summit lessons on personal statement writing ask students to do just that as they learn about writing their college application essay. 6

7 College Summit has helped numerous school communities become Launchpads, with the shared belief that some form of postsecondary education is not only an option for all students, but an expectation. With the guides as one tool, a grade level team can review all subject areas for other times during the year when narrative is taught. Teachers from that grade level team can make informed decisions about teaching to that standard, such as when to teach narrative writing and what emphasis it might be given at different times of the year. They can also make informed decisions about teaching to other standards. If the narrative standard is sufficiently taught within College Summit and English classes, for example, teachers can then focus on the standards for writing arguments (W and W ) and explanatory texts (W and W ) during other class time. The guides are one of a series of tools and activities from College Summit that help our partner educators ensure their students master the standards and are accepted into and succeed at college. In addition to the guides and the three action briefs described below, College Summit s Educators Academies (EA) are held each summer in all College Summit regions. The EAs provide partner educators with detailed and actionable information that they need to ensure every student who can make it in college makes it to college. Lastly, it is important to include all education professionals in alignment discussions. College Summit s work is contingent not just on the teacher in that classroom, but also on school administrators and counselors to build a college-going culture. In January 2012, Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), released three action briefs on the role that school counselors, elementary school leaders, and secondary school leaders can take in effective implementation of the Common Core. The briefs and the collaboration were accomplished with the generous support from the MetLife Foundation. As NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti stated, There s a lot of energy around the Common Core State Standards right now, but the hard work will be in their implementation in schools. College Summit s Director of Education Bryce Jacobs seconded the importance of collaboration in implementation, Everyone in the school building will be responsible for ensuring that all students graduate ready for college and career. A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards 7

8 Lessons Learned and Conclusion While these alignment guides serve as a simple way to connect the Common Core to College Summit s curricula, they also represent our efforts to change the climate and culture of American high schools, particularly those that serve low-income young people. In School Culture: The Hidden Curriculum, Craig Jerald wrote that Too often, educators interpret the effective schools research to mean that the school s climate should be safe and orderly and only safe and orderly But discussions of school climate that begin and end with classroom management and student discipline miss an important part of the puzzle. A truly positive school climate is not characterized simply by the absence of gangs, violence, or discipline problems, but also by the presence of a set of norms and values that focus everyone s attention on what is most important and motivate them to work hard toward a common purpose. At this moment, that common purpose should be preparing high school students for the demands of the 21st century workforce by shifting the cultural belief from high school as a destination to high school as a Launchpad for college and career success (College Summit 2012). With its curriculum, teacher and school leader support, and forceful advocacy, College Summit has helped numerous school communities become Launchpads, with the shared belief that some form of postsecondary education is not only an option for all students, but an expectation. The Common Core build further on that cultural shift. But there is still work to be done to propel that cultural shift on all high school campuses. In 2011, Metlife reported that a majority of students believes their school emphasizes college readiness, while many teachers, and especially parents, believe that schools could be doing a better job of informing students about the steps to take to be prepared to get into college and to finance their education. College Summit complements the Common Core initiative in the work of changing the culture of American high school education. Both are putting into action the belief that postsecondary education and career readiness and success are the expectations for all students. College Summit believes strongly that successful implementation of the Common Core means that all, not just some students should be on the pathway to college and career readiness. Such a pathway has never been more critical to students for their personal success, their economic success, and their success as citizens in a representative democracy. (Achieve 2012) 8

9 Organizations thinking about how their own work aligns with the Common Core should take note of the following lessons: Know and follow your North Star. Remain true to the mission and values driving your work in education and support these principles with clear objectives and learning outcomes. With these pieces in place, comparison to, and potential alignment with, standards will be easier to design and implement. If your organization does not have a clear north star when it starts its alignment work to the Common Core, it could quickly lose focus and relevance. As College Summit plans for future curriculum revisions, we look to the Common Core for guidance but also to our founding principles and mission to improve college access and success for students from low-income communities. Be honest and maintain integrity in your work. It is important to recognize where and how your work falls short of objectives or outcomes articulated within the Common Core. College Summit s alignment guides only include those lessons within the existing curriculum that aligned directly to the Common Core and exclude those with weak or non-existent connections. Where existing College Summit activities fall short, the guide offers extension activity suggestions, thereby creating a more meaningful and useful guide for educators that does not try to sell our curricula as something it is not. See the bigger picture. The national movement toward developing consistent standards creates countless opportunities for partnerships and collaborations in the K 12 field. While your organization may not address specific standards, there is likely a like-minded organization that does. Be aware of how your organization fits into the Common Core movement and explore these partnerships. Recognize how all the pieces work together for the common goal of student success. College Summit partnered with Achieve, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), to publish three action briefs on the role that school counselors, elementary school leaders, and secondary school leaders can take in effective implementation of the Common Core. This work continues through an ongoing series of collaborative meetings that allow our organizations to work together toward a common goal. We know that our work with the Common Core is just beginning. A Common North Star: College Summit and the Common Core State Standards 9

10 Next Steps for College Summit Supporting our educators in their implementation through training and professional development. We will do this through in-person and online training facilitated by College Summit s national staff provided to our regional teams. They can in turn provide teachers with in person trainings before and during the school year. Directly integrating our alignment with the Common Core into our curriculum. Currently, our alignment guides are separate documents that are a supplement to our regular curricular materials. We anticipate future curriculum books will include alignment notations within each lesson where there is alignment. Creating new lessons that more closely align with some of the standards that the College Summit curriculum does not currently address such as social studies and math. While we know that College Summit s curricula cannot realistically address every ELA, math, and technical subject objectives, we have identified new opportunities for lesson extensions and subject-specific activities to implement in future versions of our curricula. Using the alignment of Common Core with College Summit as a selling tool to show potential school partners how our program complements and supports schools and their implementation of the standards. Encouraging teachers to understand how this guide ties into their everyday work. As some educators view the Common Core as another challenge to their work with students, College Summit recognizes the opportunity for teachers to strengthen their lesson plans and improve students success. We will emphasize these points through professional development workshops and ongoing support. Building our network of like-minded organizations. As we continue our work with Achieve, NASSP, and NAESP we keep a constant eye toward learning and sharing with one another to explore possibilities for future collaboration among partners around tools, strategies, and other resources. 10

11 A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness (2010). Iowa City, IA: ACT. Retrieved on February 14, 2013 from Achieving the Common Core: Comparing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Frameworks in Reading for 2009 and Writing for 2011 (2010). Washington, DC: Achieve. Retrieved on February 15, 2013 from Conley, D., Drummond, K., degonzalez, A., Rooseboom, J., & Stout, O. Reaching the Goal: The Applicability and Importance of the Common Core State Standards to College and Career Readiness (2011). Eugene, OR: Educational Policy Improvement Center. Retrieved on February 15, 2013 from Reaching-the-Goal-Report.pdf Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the School Counselor (2012). Washington, DC: Achieve. Retrieved on February 22, 2013 from RevisedCounselorActionBrief_Final_Feb.pdf Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Secondary School Leader (2012). Washington, DC: Achieve. Retrieved on February 22, 2013 from files/revisedsecondaryactionbrief_final_feb.pdf Jerald, C. School Culture: The Hidden Curriculum (2006). Washington, DC: The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. Retrieved on January 31, 2013 from Metlife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers (2011). New York City, NY: Metlife, Inc. Retrieved on February 14, 2013 from ED pdf Newmann, F., Smith, B., Allensworth, E., & Bryk, A. Instructional Program Coherence: What It Is and Why It Should Guide School Improvement Policy (2001). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Retrieved on February 14, 2013 from Sawchuk, S. EWA Research Brief: What Studies Say About Teacher Effectiveness (2011). Bethesda, MD: The National Education Writers Association. Retrieved on February 25, 2013 from Schneider, M., & Yin, L. The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates: How Much Does Dropping Out of College Really Cost? (2011). Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved on February 15, 2013 from Schramm, J. and Zalesne, E. Seizing the Measurement Moment (2011). Washington, DC: College Summit. Retrieved on February 14, 2013 from uploads/collegesummitwhitepaper2011.pdf The College Summit Launchpad Educator Selection Guide (2012). Washington, DC: College Summit. Retrieved on February 22, 2013 from Wenglinsky, H. How Schools Matter: The Link Between Teacher Classroom Practices and Student Academic Performance. Education Policy Analysis Archives (2002). Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University. Retrieved on February 15, 2013 from

12 WITH SUPPORT FROM College Summit values the authenticity of the educator voice and perspective, therefore this publication incorporates results from school leaders and administrators from our College Summit partner schools and districts, as well as field research conducted by the College Summit National Education Team.

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