Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Coping with Teaching and Testing to New Standards

In education, change is a way of life…

As you know, the old NC Standard Course of Study has morphed into the overhauled Standard Course of Study, which comprises the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the NC Essential Standards (NCES). These new standards establish educational learning targets aimed at ensuring that all students are prepared for success in college and work.

You know… the “21st Century Skills" we’ve heard so much about during the last decade or so.

The NC State Board of Education mandated that the CCSS and the NCES be taught and assessed starting with the 2012-2013 school year. Large-scale testing for the CCSS is set to launch in fall 2014.

These new standards call for a significant elevating of learning expectations that focus on deeper understanding of content and higher levels of thinking and application… for both students AND teachers!

Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) describe two types of changes that take place when innovations are introduced into schools. They use the terms first-order change and second-order change to describe the magnitude and implications of changes for the educators who are expected to implement them or for those individuals who will be impacted by the changes.

First-order change is a logical extension of past practices and can be put into place with current levels of knowledge and skills. This type of change is superficial and incremental and does not require educators to do things in significantly different ways. In first-order change, the current situation is tweaked only a little bit at a time.

Conversely, second-order change is “transformational” and necessitates a fundamental departure from past practices. For successful implementation, second-order changes require individuals to acquire new knowledge and skills in order to bring about dramatic differences in practices from those currently being used.

Would you agree that teaching and testing to the new standards are examples of “second-order change?”

How are you coping with this new reality? What changes must you make in your teaching in order to ensure that your students meet the higher expectations of the new standards? What short-term and long-term steps can you take to make positive changes in your teaching practices?

Helping You Cope with Transformational Change

There’s one fantastic opportunity to help you cope with transformational change coming up very soon…

Could you benefit from participating in a powerful learning experience? Why not consider attending the 10th Annual Elementary School Conference coming to the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro on October 20-22, 2013?

As you may know, the Elementary School Conference is hosted by the NC Association of Elementary Educators (NCAEE). This volunteer organization is the only one in our state, and one of only a few in that nation, dedicated to meeting the needs of elementary educators and students.

The theme for this year’s Elementary School Conference is "Common Core and So Much More!" The conference strands focus in on topics of interest to most elementary educators: Common Core, Essential Standards, Teacher Leadership, Supporting Diversity, and Technology in Education. Click here to take a look at the fantastic sessions being offered this year.

If you haven't yet registered for the conference, you can do so from the NCAEE website. There is a team discount available: pay for four attendees and get one free. Attending a conference with a group can be terrific fun as well as enlightening! Download the Team Discount form for details.

If you are not sure if your school has funds available now, it is possible for you to attend the Elementary School Conference in October and pay later. This year you can attend in October and pay as late as November 15th if you have an administrator sign and send in a Payment Authorization Form. Read about this offer on the NCAEE blog.

Plus, are you looking for ways to demonstrate your leadership in the profession? You know… Standard I of the NC Professional Teaching Standards on which you are evaluated each year.

If so, then consider joining the NCAEE Team! If you would like to take on an active role in our organization, we currently are seeking Regional Advisory Council members in many of the eight regions of NC. Find out how you can get involved by reading the blog post about this. We would love to have you join our team!

If you have not done so already, sign up for the NCAEE newsletter to receive updates throughout the year.

We hope to see you at the 10th Annual Elementary School Conference in Greensboro in a few weeks!

Dr. Sara Coble Simmons is the Founding President of NCAEE (2005-2006) and remains actively involved by serving as the At-Large Professor member of the Board of Directors. A former elementary teacher, she has been involved in various facets of education in three different states. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. She is past dean of graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and currently is a full-time professor in the School of Education at UNCP. At the upcoming Elementary School Conference, Dr. Simmons will be presenting a breakout session entitled “Putting it All Together: Teaching to the Standards in NC.” She can be reached by email (

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).