New York State has a long history of raising the bar and increasing standards for students. With increasing global competition the stakes have never been higher. Students in Glens Falls City School District no longer simply compete against other local school districts. Graduates in 2012 will compete for college entrance and jobs against students from around the world that are highly skilled, fluent in multiple languages, and focused on math and science as keys to the future. With labor costs in America exceeding many developing countries, ingenuity and innovation are viewed by many as being the areas that America needs to focus on to compete in the 21st Century. This is the context and rationale for Federal and State initiatives such as Race to the Top (RTTT) and the development of 21st Century Skills.
During the summer of 2010 we learned that New York State would receive nearly $700 million as part of the State’s successful application for Race to the Top funding. The news came as a great relief too many even though it was still not clear what schools would be asked to do. With schools across New York struggling to pass local school budgets that spring, communities hoped that RTTT funding would ease the pressure on local school budgets and increase our ability to compete in a changing world. While schools continue to struggle with local budgets, the Race to the Top deliverables hold promise for improving schools.
Glens Falls City School District has been focused on the three deliverables of Race to the Top: implementation of Common Core State Standards, embedding data-driven instruction into daily school practice, and developing evidence-based observation systems for teachers and principals.
Establishing common education standards throughout the nation ensures that all children---regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, or life history---receive an education that values their potential. Common standards help students get a consistently high-quality education, from school to school and state to state. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative was a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. On July 19, 2010, the New York State Board of Regents adopted the Standards for English language arts/ literacy and mathematics as new learning standards for all students in New York State. To date, 45 states have adopted similar CCSS.
In New York State, the CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
There are twelve shifts that the Common Core requires of schools if we are to be truly aligned with it in terms of curricular materials and classroom instruction. There are six shifts in ELA/ Literacy and six shifts in Mathematics.
These 14-minute videos provide an overview of the Common Core
State Standards in ELA/Literacy and Mathematics. NYS
Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. and contributing
author David Coleman discuss the background of the Common Core
State Standards, their value in the state, the principles of
their development, and the changes required of schools during
this transition. The video provides an introduction or
re-introduction to the standards, as well as fodder for a
discussion about what it will mean to implement these
For additional videos on the CCSS, please visit www.EngageNY.org.
The need to use data to drive instruction (DDI) is not a new idea in education. In fact, Glens Falls City School District has been using data to inform instruction for years now. The goal with Race to the Top is to embed DDI into daily school practices so that using data becomes the norm rather than the exception across the country and in the classroom. New York State has invested millions of dollars to create assessments that align with the Common Core Learning Standards and develop an infrastructure that allows the State to track student performance over multiple years. Here in Glens Falls City School District, we have been participating in training with our local BOCES to develop Building Inquiry Teams. Inquiry Teams in each school will meet regularly to review the results of benchmark assessments and provide additional instruction to students in areas of need. Our goal is to ensure that students graduate having the skills they need to be successful in college and career. It is widely believed that the skills students need in order to be successful in college are the same skills that students will need for a career in the 21st Century.
While educators have embraced and moved forward implementing
the Common Core Learning Standards and Data Driven
Instruction, many of the details needed to develop
evidence-based observation systems for teachers and principals
have yet to be finalized by the State. To prepare districts
for this deliverable our BOCES has provided training on the
use of an observation system that has had general acceptance
in the past. It remains to be seen if this will become the
tool that is agreed upon within Glens Falls City School
District. New York State has deferred to local school
districts to negotiate the details of how evidence-based
observations will be developed and used with local teacher
associations. The timeline for these details is relative to
the negotiations timeline within each school district. The
teacher contract between Glens Falls City School District the
Glens Falls Teachers Association expires in June of 2012.