A couple of you reminded me after I wrote about the need for a positive agenda for CPS (CTU & Reformers Both Wrong) that I'd forgotten to mention perhaps the two biggest challenges coming down the the pike this year -- Common Core and the 2013 ISAT reset -- and that CPS and CTU might actually be able to join forces and make some good things happen. Or not.
We haven't talked about it much on this site, but unless something's changed, CPS is still moving ahead with the upgraded curriculum, and I haven't heard CTU murmuring that they don't like it.
There's been some coverage of the Core -- WBEZ's August 2012 story (New math and reading standards trickle into Chicago-area classrooms) described it as "books about turtles and trains, and less Clifford the Big Red Dog in Kindergarten. In middle and high school, it’ll be more newspaper and magazine articles, and a little less Shakespeare." Another August WBEZ story (New school year features longer day, recess, no teachers contract) quoted Brizard describing it as "In mathematics, much more conceptually based mathematics. Much more nonfiction in literacy."
So maybe this is something that everyone can agree on? If so, then the question is whether CPS and CTU are doing everything they can within reason to train and support teachers in learning about the new standards and making them real. Are the central office and the network chiefs pushing hard on this? How about the CTU curriculum folks?
One way or the other, Common Core is coming, as are the new tests. The new new test isn't until 2014, but there were already a few CC questions in last year's ISAT tests, and there are going to be more -- and higher cut scores -- in the 2013 version of the tests. These new cut scores are going to be like a blast of cold water for Chicago folks used to high "meets or exceeds" numbers -- more like the exceeds number, I'm told. (See the ISBE newsletter from the beginning of September here.)