Recent news items from Education Week (courtesy of Education First Core to College News Blast e-newsletters) about progress on developing, vetting, and refining useful instructional resources on the Common Core State Standards:
- The National Education Association and the for-profit firm BetterLesson have unveiled a jointly designed, $7 million free platform with more than 3,000 lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards-a move that comes concurrent with NEA’s strongest endorsement yet for the standards. The new platform breaks each lesson into its component pieces, with narratives and artifacts from the master teachers explaining how they introduce a topic, arrange practice activities, and troubleshoot. The lessons they produce for the site will be free for all K-12 teachers in the United States, and are searchable by topic or by the standard they target.
- Using $1.6 million in grants from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment consortia will work with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association to give teachers a central role in designing instructional resources for the common standards and tests. The two new grants-$830,000 to PARCC and $785,000 to Smarter Balanced-will bring teachers together, through their two national unions, to work face-to-face with consortium designers to create instructional and diagnostic resources for the Common Core, such as sample lessons, that will be housed in each group’s online library. The grants will also go toward building networks of teachers who are experts in the two assessment systems and can serve as trainers for their colleagues in the states.
- Several new tools have been designed to help teachers and leaders gauge alignment to the Common Core State Standards. EQuIP (Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products),originated with the work of three states-Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island-that designed a set of criteria to use in judging lessons and units for alignment with the standards. Other tools or processes designed to evaluate instructional materials for Common Core alignment include free portals by the two teachers’ unions where teachers can post and comment on lessons, and a set of free online tools by Student Achievement Partners that can be used to judge the fidelity of instructional materials to the standards.For-profit groups-like the Austin, Texas-based Learning List, which uses panels of judges to size up instructional materials-are also wading into the alignment-evaluation business, and the Business Roundtable is talking with partners about creating a group to do “Consumer Reports-type reviews” of Common Core materials. Finally, a group of experts led by Maria M. Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College, is creating a nonprofit to review the most widely used Common Core math materials.