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Common Questions on Common Core Part 3: How it’s working in MD, what it costs

Aplle-Common-Core-Part-3In a major shift in public education, states across the nation have been implementing a new set of standards known as the Common Core. Common Core appears as a subject in national and local news media and is a constant subject of debate, particularly in conservative circles.

Despite all this attention, Common Core still remains a confusing topic for many people. In this three-part series MarylandReporter.com answers some basic questions about Common Core.

Part 1 focused on Common Core itself and how it was developed.

Part 2 looked at what the new standards mean for Maryland public school systems and their limited option in implementing them.

Part 3 looks at how the standards are working in Maryland and what they will cost.

The series was edited by MarylandReporter.com associate editor Meg Tully and Part 3 was written by Glynis Kazanjian.

Did Maryland meets its goal of implementing Common Core by the 2013-2014 school year?

A 2014 Race to the Top report that studied Maryland’s progress in implementing Common Core shows that Maryland fell short significantly.

Specifically, the report focused on two major categories – technology delays and deficient school implementation data.

The report stated Maryland experienced numerous, ongoing delays in technology projects, including data sharing programs for educators, infrastructure upgrades, IT specialty staff hiring and multi-media staff training.

Maryland also did not have a plan in place to collect feedback from school districts, schools or educators on how well implementation was going, or what resources they needed to help with, or complete, implementation.

The report also found that Maryland delayed by one year an effort to develop a standardized curriculum management system that would provide teachers with instructional resources needed to transition to Common Core. The state also struggled with its initial principal-teacher evaluation pilot program.

Surveys showed trouble

Surveys conducted at the beginning of the school year also signaled that school personnel were having trouble with the implementation.

According to a Maryland State Department of Education survey, less than a quarter of Maryland educators felt fully prepared to teach Common Core by the 2013-2014 school year. Another survey conducted by the state’s teachers union showed that only 29 percent of educators felt like they had received enough professional development.

This would explain the flurry of bills introduced in the 2014 legislative session by Democrats and Republicans alike to either slow down Common Core implementation or stop it altogether.

While Republican efforts to repeal Common Core fell flat, Democratic lawmakers banded together with the teacher’s union to communicate teacher and parent concerns over the rocky implementation.
Two landmark bills passed the legislature practically unanimously.

One bill created a 20-member implementation workgroup that will identify schools that are having trouble with implementation, while another bill delays the use of student test scores on principal and teacher evaluations for two years, to give schools a chance to fully implement Common Core.

Schools did meet their goal for administering PARCC field tests last month. Next year, schools are scheduled to begin administering PARCC tests to reading and math students in grades 3-8, and to algebra/data analysis and English 10 students entering grade 9. School systems are not required to have the tests fully computer-based until the 2016-2017 school year.

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