School's Out for Kids, But Teachers Are Hard at Work

Jul 23, 2013

School’s out for kids, but this summer many teachers can be found in classrooms around Connecticut learning about the Common Core State Standards.  

In a large room at the ACES building in Hamden, groups of teachers are seated around tables.

"These are middle school and high school teachers, grades 6-12, all English and English language arts teachers."

Leslie Abbatiello is the director of professional development for Area Cooperative Educational Services, which works with 26 school districts in the New Haven area.

"They’re collaborating across district lines to share the knowledge. Here you’ve got New Haven/Wallingford, Region 13, and North Branford."

At this 2-week workshop, about 150 teachers are writing original curriculum based on the Common Core expectations.

Wendy Baker teaches 6th grade language arts in Wallingford.

"Finding the right book for the age level that we teach. I think that’s the biggest struggle."

The Common Core standards establish a kind of step ladder that identifies what kids should know along the journey from kindergarten through high school. But educators have to figure out how to weave that into classroom teaching and learning. 

"The implications for the whole of the Common Core are pretty significant."

Abbatiello says overall the emphasis is on getting kids to think more broadly and critically. Students will take new computer-based tests tied to Common Core.

And there will be even more onus placed on teachers to be sure kids do well on them. 

"In this environment where educator evaluation is the specter that is looming over everyone’s head, teachers want to go directly to the test and jump right over the standards."

She says ACES is trying to help teachers stay focused on instruction.

"...and understand that if we do that in the classroom on a day to day basis, students will succeed on the test, no doubt."

Connecticut officials have asked Washington for a waiver to allow additional time before test results become part of teacher evaluations. Meanwhile, educators are working hard to prepare for the transition to Common Core.

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.