The adoption of the Common Core standards is among the most significant changes in K-12 public education in the United States in the last century.
The current standards-based, outcomes-based framework of public education really began in the late 1980s. This comprehensive process has been fluid, with constant revisions to its core components of accountability, content-based curricular frameworks, and standardized methods of assessment for all students regardless of disability or socioeconomic background.
With the adoption of the Common Core standards, 47 of the 50 states (as of February 2013) now deliver the same content to learners. While the long-term effects of this movement will be years in the making, the big ideas of uniformity across states, increased rigor, and evolving ideas of literacy are clear. The new Common Core standards call for teachers across content areas to not just support literacy efforts, but plan for them intentionally.
With Common Core adoption, reading and writing will now be taught across the curriculum. This is the most obvious change, as it impacts every teacher in a school.
But perhaps an even more important wrinkle that emerges under careful examination of the standards relates to digital literacy. While organizations like NCTE, ISTE, P21 and others provide frameworks and standards to promote an evolving definition of reading and writing, these are ancillary at best–not assessed, rarely surfacing in curriculum maps, and second-fiddle to the Common Core standards and learning targets in classrooms across the United States.
With the inclusion of digital literacies in the Common Core standards, educators are now bound to teach them, a silent but interesting shift in tone. Technology-based instruction has now gone from a novelty in progressive classrooms, to a matter of law for all teachers and learners.
While few teachers resisted their implementation before, there can now be full application of school and district resources to support their development in all learners. From a district and administrative perspective, this likely means an increased need for professional development for staff to integrate both literacy and technology training. Fitting these pieces into current district initiatives–from literacy plans to curriculum maps and related instructional focuses–can help schools and districts form the power of technology into a cohesive whole with everything else they do, rather than “tacking it on.”
But on a wider scale, technology and learning are now joined at the hip. While the current version of the Common Core standards for ELA don’t even begin to reflect the potential technology has to personalize learning, improve access to content, and make the entire learning process more transparent, it is finally formal recognition on the broadest of levels that technology matters in learning.
And that’s pretty cool.