A new curriculum, a new teacher, and new books are the new normal for educators around the country, but many of them have been out of reach for years.
For more than a decade, New York City schools have relied on the Common Core State Standards, which focus on reading, writing, and math.
But these standards have never been tested by teachers, and the results have been inconsistent.
New York’s school districts have struggled to adapt, failing to meet the expectations of parents and teachers, leading to chaos and upheaval, and leaving thousands of students with diminished skills.
Today, the challenge is even greater: teachers are struggling to meet new demands in new ways, and many educators are struggling with a lack of the right tools and the right skills.
New Orleans is a prime example.
When the Louisiana State Board of Education adopted its new Common Core curriculum in 2010, its most recent edition was designed for kids who scored below the state’s standards.
In addition to incorporating the Common CCS, the state also included a revised version of the Teach for America program, a federally funded program that has served as a model for teacher training and curriculum in more than 30 states.
But while Teach for American taught more than 1.3 million teachers and 2.4 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade in Louisiana from 2010 to 2016, the new curriculum was not even tested by any state or district.
Instead, the federal government funded a pilot program to test the state curriculum on a large number of New Orleans public school students, who were given the same Common Core tests and curriculum that the state had previously been using.
When testing began in 2017, Louisiana schools had a combined 473,000 students in grades K through 12.
And the test scores did not improve, falling below the 4th grade mark for the first time in decades.
“We got tested in the middle of the year,” said Donna Taylor, the superintendent of New Orleanians Public Schools.
“I know from experience that it’s hard to do this work when the kids are behind you.”
And it wasn’t just New Orleans students who struggled to learn.
New Hampshire teachers who used Teach for AmeriCorps in the past five years have reported dropping out of the program because of its “abysmal” standards.
The state is also the only one of 20 states that has not tested its Common Core standards for kindergarten through grade 12.
When teachers and principals start facing a similar challenge in other states, they are forced to confront a range of challenges: What are the state-mandated standards and standards that are available to teachers, principals, and parents?
What do you do when teachers can’t meet standards?
What if the state fails to meet standards and then you have to switch to a different one?
What can you do to make sure that you have all the tools you need to teach your students?
What does a teacher do when she has to deal with new standards?
Some teachers are working to find solutions to the problems that they face.
In California, teachers and students in the state of Los Angeles were awarded a $10 million grant last year to create a new Common Curriculum in their schools.
And this spring, the New York Times reported that New York State is considering a pilot curriculum to test on a larger number of students, and that it will soon launch a similar program in New Jersey.
New Jersey has also been trying to adapt to the Common Curriecency since 2010.
New Brunswick’s teachers recently received a grant to develop a curriculum that will allow teachers to test in their own classrooms on a new set of Common Currics.
But this approach has been controversial in some corners of the state, and some teachers are worried that the new testing will cause them to be more reactive to the state.
“Some teachers will not be ready to test until we’re in their classrooms, and we have to deal in the classroom,” said Kristi Koehler, a teacher in the New Brunswick school district.
In a statement, New Brunswick Superintendent Peter L. Richey said that New Brunswick teachers will continue to use the same standardized testing methodology as New Orleans, and New Jersey will be able to provide the same results.
“It is critical that we all understand that our testing efforts are in the best interest of our students, parents, and communities,” Richeys statement said.
The challenge of making the right changes to meet a new standard is daunting.
“You can’t just roll out a new curriculum without having a plan for how to meet it,” said Michelle Brown, the director of the Center for New Communities at the New Orleans Public School District.
“There are a lot of things you can do to help them understand the requirements of the new standard, so that they can make the necessary changes to their own curricula to meet them.”
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