Like states across the nation, South Dakota is challenged with implementing the Common Core standards in English language arts and math by school year 2014-15. Below are answers to some of the questions we’ve been receiving regarding the Common Core roll-out.
Q: What is the Common Core Professional Development Series?
A: It is a professional development series aimed at assisting schools, and in particular teachers, in making the required transition to the Common Core standards by school year 2014-15. The series is hosted by the South Dakota Department of Education. The 2011-12 school year is the first of the three-year series.
Q: Why is this training so important?
A: The Common Core standards will form the basis of future instruction and assessment in English language arts and math across South Dakota and the 41 other participating states. The Common Core provides high standards that are consistent across states, and in some areas, South Dakota will need to ramp up. As a state, we want to be sure that our education professionals have top-notch training, so that they can better prepare South Dakota students for the rigor of these new standards.
In addition, the training will help educators discern whether the curriculum they are utilizing or considering using is in alignment with the Common Core standards.
Q: Will participants gain in-depth knowledge of all the standards?
A: The Common Core Professional Development Series will focus on a process for gaining in-depth knowledge and understanding of standards. By participating in the workshops, educators will gain an in-depth knowledge of selected standards and a process, tools and resources to take back to the district.
Q: I am concerned about the number of days teachers will be out of the classroom. Why was the training set up this way?
A: In order to properly prepare teachers for full implementation and assessment in 2014-15, we need to give them ample opportunity to dissect the standards. This is a complex process that includes at least three distinct steps:
• Identify the unique elements of information and skill in each standard
• Design instructional strategies and learning experiences to achieve the correct cognitive complexity of the standard
• Ensure that assessments are evaluating students’ progress at the appropriate level of rigor
The Common Core Professional Development Series has been designed to cover the dissecting of a standard in full circle, in order for teachers to have a greater impact on student learning.
To date, 45 public school districts or nonpublic schools have registered to participate in the summer pilot. Sixty-one have registered or saved seats for the first year of training, which starts in school year 2011-12.
Q: My district cannot afford to participate in the Common Core Professional Development Series that the department has planned for 2011-12. What are my options?
A: 1) Districts could use a train-the-trainer model, in which a small group of educators participate in the face-to-face training, and then go back and train others in their districts. Once an educator learns the process described above, they can apply this process to any standard.
2) The Common Core Professional Development Series will span three years: 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, with full implementation in 2014-15. While each year of training will focus on different standards, the process teachers learn through this series will be the same and can be applied to any standard.
3) The department will be creating a virtual professional development option. This option would be available to any teacher who is not able to participate in the face-to-face training. The online option will be available next spring, after the regular 2011-12 school year training has concluded.
Q: Who pays for my subs if I have teachers participating in the 2011-12 school year training?
A: At the present time, districts are responsible for covering the cost of subs.
Q: I have questions about how to make this work. Who can I call?
A: The department stands ready to assist you in coming up with reasonable solutions to implementing the Common Core standards. Please contact Becky Nelson in our Office of Curriculum, Career and Technical Education at (605) 773-4681.