What the New State Standards and Assessments Taught Me

When the notion of the New State Standards and State Assessments were announced, my experience as an educational leader and curriculum and assessment director jumped at the chance to be on the cutting edge leading this work.  I quickly learned the major shifts and themes of the new standards and preached their benefits to students for future success in the real world.  As we finally begin testing our students next month to measure the impact of all this work, I can’t help but reflect on how the new standards have actually had a profound impact on me.
New Standards Promote Collaboration

As we investigate the changes in developing productive citizens, we realize that collaboration is essential now more than ever.  Gone are the days in which individuals are left to learn and work on their own.  Two years ago, I was selected to represent the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators on the Ohio PARCC Educator Leader Cadre.  The purpose of the cadre was to disseminate information on the new assessments to educators across the state as well as provide feedback to the State and PARCC leaders.  I am part of an amazing group of educational leaders across Ohio who have dug in to the new standards and assessments from every angle.  Knowing the complexity of the new standards for all grades K-12 and all students, I have grown as a leader in understanding the need and power of collaboration.  No matter the time of day or question at hand, we have banded together to connect our learning and share them with others.  Because the standards have been adopted across other states, the networking and collaboration has increased even more.  Through Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, I connect with other educators to share best practices to support student learning.

New Assessments Promote Problem Solving

Knowing the rapid evolution of technologies and innovation is our new reality, the skills of problem solving are key.  Early on, we created lessons and units to mimic problem solving strategies for student development.  We created situations for students to think creatively and solve problems around novel ideas without a single solution.  In the past months, I have seen an increase in dialogue to promote real-life, relevant problem-solving scenarios for students.  For me, the whole notion of the new testing scenario is a complex problem.  Educators are being taught how to solve problems in developing infrastructures and communication systems for staff, students, and parents.  I have been amazed at the problem solving tactics from our technology team, administrators, and teachers to provide a conducive environment to prepare for our students.

New Standards and Assessments Focus on Reading

The notion of developing better readers is a no-brainer.  i have heard and spoke on many topics related to increases in nonfiction reading and writing across the curriculum.  We have constructed language and literacy frameworks and spent time providing strategies for all teachers to invoke more reading in the classroom.  Little did I know that reading would be an even more critical component to my job.  With the manuals, descriptions, blueprints, rubrics, newsletters, updates, and even blogs, reading has been a daily non-negotiable.  The prepared leader is the one who is able to select the credible sources and summarize the key concepts.

Conclusion 

Regardless of how you or I feel about the new standards or assessments, the ability for educators to model collaboration and problem solving strategies may be an unattended benefit to understanding the future reality for our students.  I have professed many times to slow down the roller-coaster of events, but this new reality will continue to develop my skills in collaboration, problem solving, and reading.  So, while I consider myself an educator at times, I realize the need to be a model student who understands the need to be a lifelong learner.

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