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Transitioning to Common Core State Standards
As 2012-2013 school year begins, the pace of transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is accelerating in most districts across 46 states. We at NWEA know this transition affects all aspects of the educational program.TRANSITION IMPACTS
First, curriculum must be rewritten and/or realigned and gaps in the current program must be located and addressed. Second, new instructional strategies need to be implemented. In math, these instructional changes likely focus on a greater emphasis on the mathematical practices; in English Language Arts, the changes likely focus on a greater emphasis on text based questioning, claims and evidence; and in the content areas, these changes likely focus on an increased emphasis on informational reading. All the new curricula and all the new instructional practices must be supported by strong professional development activities. Additionally, many districts will be implementing new summative assessments aligned to the CCSS and preparing for the “next generation” assessments looming just over the horizon. Even in districts that made the transition to CCSS in 2011-2012, this school year brings evaluation, reflection, and adjustment of changes implemented last year.
NWEA DATA WILL REMAIN A CONSTANT AND GROWTH MEASURES WILL NOT BE AFFECTED
Whatever the status of your district’s transition, this time of great change may seem chaotic. Fortunately, NWEA data will be a constant in this time of change. Even when your district switches from an NWEA MAP test aligned to existing state standards or from a traditional the MPG test to the MAP and MPG tests that are aligned to the CCSS, the data will remain a constant. This is due to the fact that MAP and MPG scores are reported in terms of the RIT scale which is a stable scale. A RIT score of 210 in Alabama is the same as a 210 in Wyoming and is the same as a 210 on the CCSS aligned test. Thus, tracking individual student growth over time will not be affected. Growth data and growth norms will not be affected so establishing student and group growth goals can continue as before. In fact, everything you do with MAP or MPG data now you will continue to be able to do when you switch to MAP and MPG aligned to the CCSS. The one difference is that goal scores and the DesCartes information will now reflect the CCSS rather than your current goals. As you implement changes in curriculum, instruction and professional development, MAP and MPG data can provide an important data point for evaluating the effectiveness of the changes made.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO TRANSITION TO COMMON CORE?
Is there a right time to transition to the CCSS aligned tests? The answer will be different for different districts, but the core question is which is more important to you:
- Measuring the content that is taught in the classrooms or
- Finding the strengths and weaknesses of your current curriculum in terms of the CCSS
If measuring the content that is taught in the classrooms is more important, we recommend migrating over to the CCSS aligned tests when the alignment of instructional materials to the CCSS occurs in your district. In addition, we recommend if possible, that the migration occurs between academic years in order to cause the least disruption to the learning process. If finding the strengths and weaknesses of your current curriculum in terms of the CCSS is more important, then you can consider switching to CCSS aligned tests before the CCSS curriculum is implemented. In this way, MAP and MPG can help with the gap analysis so necessary to reworking rather than rewriting your curriculum.
Another way to approach the question is to think about how much you plan to change curriculum over the next couple years. If your curriculum will change greatly, then switch when the new curriculum is implemented. If you feel you are only making adjustments to existing curricula, then it may make sense to switch sooner.
As an additional resource, you can view a presentation delivered this past summer at Fusion where we described the CCSS aligned MAP and MPG goal structures and the new item types we will be introducing to measure the CCSS more effectively.
A future blog post will discuss the new item types in MAP.
John Wood is a Senior Curriculum Specialist at NWEA.