Monday, June 29, 2015

Quality Standard = More Testing???

The recently published Richard Gentry article, An Ode to Common Core Kindergarten Standards, gave me another perspective on the Common Core State Standards, especially for Early Learners as young as Kindergarten.

True, too many assessments are not the purpose of the CCSS.  While I am searching for the most appropriate forms of assessments (perhaps observation based?) and instructions (including play) that don't overwhelm youngsters, I would like to agree with Dr. Gentry that the CCSS is the guiding light in the early literacy developmental map. 

Simply, think about building the house.  Without a strong foundation, the fancy house won't last.

Interestingly, I also found a unique similarity that Japanese National Standards had with CCSS.  Japanese Elementary School National Course of Study explicitly states benchmarks in each grade level.  For instance, First Grade students are required to read, write, and apply about 70 Chinese characters in addition to two different Japanese alphabets (hirakana and katakana).  That itself sounds like more than the 26 letter English alphabet.  However, that is the foundation of the culture and education that all educators and students are aware of.  They know students must hit the benchmarks in order to build the fancy house on top of it. 

Another interesting finding is the recently adopted  Japanese Kindergarten National Course of Study which didn't exist in my time of service in Japan.  Its focus is to support all kindergarteners as a whole person.  This approach is similar to the Washington Kindergarten Inventory Developing Skills, also known as WaKIDS.  However, Japan doesn't require standardized assessments for 5 years olds.

As an educator, I urge my fellow teachers to learn extensively about the Common Core State Standards so that standards of each grade level are clearly implemented in the daily instructions. The instructional focus should not be how to take tests.  The Standards must be the most reliable guiding light that navigates American students in the right direction in their world wide journey.