A Challenge: Ice Buckets and Common Core

For the past month or so, social media channels have been flooded with images and sounds of the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.” My own 13-year-old daughter answered the challenge both individually (using a high school soccer team’s orange cooler of leftover ice water) and again with her golf teammates who then challenged their high school principal. She also committed some of her hard-earned babysitting money to the ALS Foundation for further research. This “pay-it-forward” movement has had unprecedented success in bringing awareness of the ALS disease and generated an extraordinary amount of donations (over $70 million to date).

On August 25, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday issued his own challenge on behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) in cooperation with a number of education advocacy groups across the state. It is called the “Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge.” These Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are what our children learn on a daily basis. Common Core State Standards don’t tell Kentucky how to teach but identifies what children need to know. Kentucky kids benefit from them because the standards are consistent from state-to-state, are laid out as stepping stones of what students should know and do from grades K through 12 in English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, and have a final goal that each student graduates from high school ready to succeed in a college or career that is competitive in the 21st century.

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards from CGCS Video Maker on Vimeo.

According to KDE’s news release, the purpose of this challenge is two-fold:

  • To raise awareness of what the standards require students to learn; and
  • To solicit specific feedback in order to inform KDE’s regular review process of the standards being taught in our classrooms.

I’ve observed many rumors and curiosities surrounding the Common Core Standards via social media, in parent clusters, in the bleachers, the carpool lines, the PTO meetings, and editorials in newspapers. Parents want to know what their children are learning so they can help them learn, and much of “that jargon” seems foreign to the way “we learned.” The standards challenge is an opportunity for Kentucky educators, parents, community members, and students to give real, specific feedback on one or a number of standards.

As a previous educator and as a parent to a middle schooler, high schooler and recent high school graduate, I decided to accept “The Challenge.” A quick click here led me to an introduction, an access to guides to help me understand the layout of both ELA and Math standards, and then a link to the feedback section. One can search by keyword (like “measurement,” “subtract,” or “plot”), subject, and/or grade. KDE is looking for SPECIFIC feedback on standards: wording, grade level changes, more specific wording, etc.

I applaud KDE and the educational advocacy groups for challenging Kentucky parents, students, educators, and anyone interested in the education of our children to become more aware of these Common Core Standards. Sometimes, the best path to awareness is to be willing to jump right in. I now challenge you to accept the challenge to provide specific ideas and suggestions. Our children will reap the benefits of being in the best state to grow and learn.

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