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Common core and common ground


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An exploration of the development of OER within the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and possible implications for Europe.

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Common core and common ground

  1. 1. Common Core and Common Ground: New Standards as Driver for Open Educational Resources and Practice in American Schools – with some reflections on the implications for Europe Sara Frank Bristow (Salient Research), with Giles Pepler (Sero Consulting) OER15 Caerdydd, Cymru 15 April 2015
  2. 2. Outline of presentation • SharedOER • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – case study • Implications for Europe
  3. 3. SharedOER • The Common Core case study was part of a research project “SharedOER” undertaken for IPTS by Sero Consulting over the period June-December 2014. The aim of this study was to make an inventory of the existing cases within the context of formal education (school sector, vocational education and higher education) where a curriculum or syllabus is shared across borders (e.g. state, national, linguistic and cultural) and consider in particular the OER aspects, existing or prospective. • The study was in three parts. The first (Deliverable 1) involved scoping and classifying cross-border syllabi/curriculum initiatives and their drivers (Jeans, Pepler & Bacsich, 2014). It was followed by a detailed case study (Deliverable 2) of the US Common Core State Standards Initiative and its impact on OER (Bristow, 2014), with both these elements brought together in Deliverable 3 (the final report,). This final report is due for publication by IPTS shortly. It discusses the research findings and the issues they raise and identifies potential areas for further investigation on synergies between cross-border syllabi/curriculum and OER in the context of formal education in the EU. • In this study, the term cross-border use is extended to any curriculum, or syllabi, when it is used in above described situations, including between states in federal countries such as the US or Germany. By curriculum we broadly refer to a specifically planned sequence of instruction incorporating (or not) the specific content and resources.
  4. 4. What are CCSS? • The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to begin two- or four-year post- secondary programmes or enter the workforce. The standards identify specific goals for language and literacy, as well as for Mathematics, that students should acquire at each grade level. • The CCSS Initiative was first formed in 2009, and the standards for kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) were made available in 2010. • The standards focus on core concepts and procedures starting in the early grades, which “gives teachers the time needed to teach them and gives students the time needed to master them”. • For kindergarten through grade 8 (K-8), these are grade-by-grade; at high school level, the standards are grouped into bands for grades 9-10 and grades 11-12. Bands are intended to allow schools, districts, and states flexibility in course design.
  5. 5. US Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative and its impact on OER: Backdrop • US law prohibits the federal education department from controlling state or local districts’ academic standards or curriculum • Educational system is fully devolved to the states • Major policy decisions made by state legislative bodies (state senate, house of representatives) – …while local governing bodies are charged with establishing their own curriculum (learning materials), professional development, etc. • Under No Child Left Behind (2001), each state adopts its own rigorous standards and definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP) • States not showing AYP lose critical federal funding
  6. 6. Where did the CCSS Initiative come from? • Development spurred by National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), with Achieve, Inc. (nonprofit) – support from philanthropy and many educator groups • Designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to begin two- or four-year post-secondary programmes or enter the workforce • Adoption allows states to meet federal No Child Left Behind targets • In 2009, 48 out of 50 US states signed a memorandum of agreement committing to the initiative • Actual standards made available in 2010 for optional adoption – not from federal government, but by these independent groups. States may develop their own standards, but choose to adopt CCSS
  7. 7. What are the CCSS? • Terminology check: – Standards set goals for what students should know and be able to do while learning academic content. – Curricula provide educators with an outline of what should be taught in classrooms. – Assessments determine how much a student has learned and whether he or she has performed to a level of proficiency set by academic standards. • Identify specific goals for language and literacy, as well as for mathematics, that students should acquire at each grade level (K-8, 9-10, 11-12) • “Accompanying model course descriptions, or pathways, are not intended to be prescriptive for curriculum or pedagogy” – that is, no learning materials are provided
  8. 8. What’s happening now? • By October 2014, 43 US states working to implement CCSS (multiyear process) • Survey (2013) by Center for Education Policy found most states unprepared for the transition • Challenges: – Curricular – We need new textbooks! – Technology – The assessment are all online! – Professional development – We have to do what? – Cost – Estimated at $8 billion to implement nationwide! – Political – Many, but momentum keep CCSS moving forward.
  9. 9. “The standards are not curricula and do not mandate the use of any particular curriculum. Teachers are able to develop their own lesson plans and choose materials, as they have always done. States that have adopted the standards may choose to work together to develop instructional materials and curricula. As states work individually to implement their new standards, publishers of instructional materials and experienced educators will develop new resources around these shared standards.” – CCSS web site
  10. 10. Enter the K-12 OER Collaborative • OER emerge as a viable and potentially cost-saving option, but previous efforts are disjointed (districts, states, companies) • Formal launch November 2014: 12 states of 50 have signed on so far • Led by those with most visible OER policies, players and commitments (Washington State, Utah, Minnesota ) • RFP issued to create a comprehensive, openly licensed curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards • Early efforts date to 2012 (Achieve Inc.); Hewlett funding awarded 2015; supporters include iNACOL and national member organisations • In March 2015, three-month rapid prototype sample units now being developed (all materials will be CC-BY)
  11. 11. The Collaborative approach • Needs assessment survey across 3 leading states; several thousand educators selected “comprehensive curriculum” approach • Adaptable materials developed for online learning (no “static PDFs”); easy to update/maintain • RFP used “the free market to get the best solution at the best price”; content proposals reviewed by educators in 9 states • Each unit will be evaluated against same criteria (EQUIP rubric), reviewed by nominated “expert educators” and applicant “teachers reviewers” • Later phase will invite applications from reviewers from all 50 states • Materials to be available across multiple formats/ platforms • OER curriculum to be truly cross-border, available for adoption by all
  12. 12. Why might CCSS be interesting to Europe in an OER context? • CCSS was a states-led effort, not a federal one. • Each of the 50 states bears full responsibility for the education of its children. Most states then devolve further curricular decision- making to the local level, a state of governance described as ‘local control’. Depending on the state, responsibility for ensuring a high-quality education may be shifted to regional school boards, city (municipal) school boards, school unions, or in some cases schools themselves (e.g. charter schools). As a result, the nature and quality of education provided across the United States can vary dramatically, not just from state to state, but from district to district (and even school to school). • There are parallel patterns in many EU countries.
  13. 13. Europe – existing cross-border curricula and content Curricula: International Baccalaureate, iGCSE etc. IT vendor qualifications – Cisco, Java, Microsoft ECDL Content STEM subjects and languages But how portable are the experiences of CCSS?
  14. 14. If the goal is cross-border adoption of common standards, as in the US • Look beyond the public education sphere for partners, funding and thought leadership. Foundations and commercial entities, for example, have been great supporters of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, as have non-profit education organisations. • In Europe, it will be up to each state whether it adopts − and how it executes – the common standards. • Cross-border regulation should make it financially desirable, but not strictly necessary, to adopt the standards. • Act swiftly, as there may be widespread criticism/backlash. Solicit public feedback swiftly and efficiently through supporting consortia members. • Ensure adequate technological capability at school/school district/state level if technology is to feature prominently in measuring achievement. • Prepare states for reform of curricular content, professional development, and assessment systems after introduction of new standards.
  15. 15. If the goal is to spur development and uptake of OER in particular – As above, seek funding/guidance from non-governmental entities, e.g. foundations and private partners. – Look to those states with the most OER experience at the state policy level for sample implementation models. – Encourage cross-border meetings, partnerships and consortia – states will have many completely different concerns, but will have at least one critical common driver: saving money. – Take advantage of any/all links to higher education partners. – Seek out/designate OER Champions in each state to lead the way and, hopefully, work together through development/implementation hurdles.
  16. 16. Ways forward? – how might key current collaborative initiatives might be further developed? – explore the potential for extended collaborative initiatives in particular subject and content areas, specifically STEM and languages; – seek collaboration between commercial and non- profit actors; – further research into the potential economic benefits of shared OER and cross-border curricula; – explore the potential for upscaling ‘seed corn’ and bottom-up initiatives; – explore the transferability of current government- level initiatives; – Further develop validation of informal learning.
  17. 17. Thank you for listening Links – Parts 1 and 2 of this study are now available at; Final Report is forthcoming – Study commissioned by IPTS-JRC, – Report by Sero Consulting Ltd, – More info on CCSS at Contact – Giles Pepler, – Sara Frank Bristow,