Louisiana teachers can relax a bit after State Education Superintendent John White announced that the Department plans to ease the evaluation of their work in the first year of Common Core's rollout. Teachers and administrators, who are working overtime to meet the demands of Common Core, welcome the reprieve.
On Tuesday, White told around 45 teachers that he plans to ease the consequences for this year, saying the tension and stress of implementing a revolution in English and Math pedagogy are just too high. Although he supports evaluating teachers strongly — accountability is a major talking point for White — he said that teachers need time to do the work properly.
"I do feel like we need to take some of the air out of the room," he said at John Q. Adams Junior High in Metairie, part of a tour of Orleans and Jefferson schools on Tuesday. "Let's give our teachers more room to do this work for the first time."
According to Danielle Dreilinger of NOLA.com, teachers are spending time changing their strategies and curricula to meet the demands of Common Core, a newly-adopted set of academic standards that dictate what students should be able to do in math and English at the end of every grade. Nearly every state has adopted the standards, and Louisiana students will start being tested on them this December — even though teachers don't entirely know yet what the tests will look like.
About 50 % of a teacher's evaluation depends on how their students score. Louisiana has opted to have school districts create their own curricula under the rationale that educators know best what their students need.
The teachers who attended the meeting were part of the state's teacher-leader corps that trains educators to help their colleagues implement the Common Core. White allayed fears that these changes would represent constant shifts in years to come:
"I think we should view this as a once-in-a-generation shift," he said.
The conversation was subdued given the controversy Common Core has attracted in recent months. Parents in the state have protested after former A-students saw their grade drop.
Stephanie Durantz, a teacher-leader at Chateau Estates Elementary in Kenner, said she'd had luck with creating materials that explained Common Core vocabulary to parents.
Karen Favorite, the academic dean at Live Oak Elementary in Livingston Parish, said she had the same experience. Parents need to know teachers now talk about "a âtelling' sentence, not a âdeclarative' sentence," she said. "It makes a difference if they're aware of that vocabulary â¦ we're not leaving them out there. They're a vital part of the family that's educating the child."