Tidbits from NCSM

Last week I attended a meeting of the Kansas State Mathematics Leaders.  A good portion of our day was spent discussing the common core state standards and what is known about the future mathematics assessment.  Several of the members had attended the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics national convention and reported back to the group.  Here are some of the things they shared.

·      The new state assessment will include the opportunity to learn (OTL) component that is currently available in Kansas at the high school level.  This means a 12-week testing window at the end of each school year will allow for two opportunities to take the state assessment.  Schools will be allowed to re-teach and re-test students who do not reach the level of mastery expected for that grade level on the first administration.

·      The reporting of assessment results will be in the form of a growth model, which may mean each student would have to be pre-tested or screened at the beginning of each school year.

·      Concepts will not be retaught from one grade to the next.  Mastery of grade level content is expected at the end of each year.  Therefore, it is imperative we develop support structures for struggling students early.  They will need access to the regular curriculum and additional support for content not mastered in a previous grade.  RTI and MTSS will play a critical role in the common core standards process.

·      The concerns about the common core for math that were enumerated at the convention included:  a disregard for technology, due to political debates; the overload of material to be covered in sixth grade;  concepts only being taught once; the need for vertical discussions about what and when to teach content; the need for professional development for teachers in both math content knowledge and pedagogical skills;  and the fact that everyone must teach the common core state standards for their grade level or the system will break down.

Hi, I am Renee' Smith and I began teaching math in, of all places, a maximum security prison. “I was 21 years old and 99 lbs. soaking wet. Some of my students were convicted murderers and as scary as it sounds, it was incredibly sad. Many of those men had failed in the school system and then turned to crime.” That early experience with public school dropouts, cemented my resolve to help future students understand and succeed in the area of mathematics. To that end I dedicated 16 years to the classroom, teaching 5th grade math through algebra. After obtaining my Masters in Education from Baker University, I joined the ESSDACK team in 2007. I have presented at the local, state, and national levels but my most worthwhile experience at ESSDACK has been working to take the fear out of math for teachers and students alike. Although my primary focus has been providing professional development in mathematics, I also devote time to podcasting and creating materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. My podcasts include, By the Numbers, Just Desserts and Math Snacks. Working at ESSDACK has provided me the opportunity to do many of the things I love. “I have the time to research current educational practices, I get to be creative, collaborative, and I meet tons of new people."

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