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Another big dilemma for the district involves teachers who are trying to teach Common Core, but also have to teach to the state’s older standards as well, something that may not go away, even when Common Core becomes fully implemented. Which means the educators could forever be struggling between two worlds under the PowerSchool system.
Brian Easton, who teaches economics at Los Alamos High School, said as much at the presentation, and more.
“I teach economics. I have to teach both Common Core and state standards, and my state standards and benchmarks aren’t going away,” he said.
“My problem is that I’m going to have to go back through my lesson plans and figure out which of these standards and benchmarks don’t match, which of these Common Core standards don’t match; we’re putting an incredible amount of effort and time toward something no one is asking us to do. We know we have to have standards-based grading. That’s required by law. We do not have to have a standards-based report card. I think that’s the question we need to be having here.”
Easton went on to thank the PowerSchool instructors for trying to make PowerSchool accessible, but also said PowerSchool will be a “disaster” if it reaches high school, mainly because of the dual standard.
“Economics is not the only class where we are going to have to have both sets. We’re going to have to educate the teachers; we’re going to have to educate the parents. Why are we doing this when no one is asking us to?”
Easton also addressed the time problem, where teachers have to go into the program and pick out the standards that best align with the assignments that day. “It may only take two minutes, but multiply that by all of the assignments we have to carry out,” he said. “I know which of my students are struggling. I know which ones are having a problem with reading. I know which ones are having a problem with writing. I don’t need this (program). I know which of my students have met the economics standards and benchmarks and I can fully communicate that to their parents.”
School Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt replied to Easton’s questions, saying it will be inevitable that the high school will be teaching Common Core, and most likely it will be through PowerSchool or something similar.
“I think as a district we have a responsibility to inform parents and the community about what children are learning by tying grades to benchmarks,” he said. “...I think parents are asking what does that ‘D’ mean, what does that ‘B’ mean, and how can I help my kid with that D. We can do that by linking these things to a standard.” He then added that progress will be made, will have to be made, in the next two years to make Common Core and PowerSchool a success. “We have two years to phase this in and to build on your knowledge on how to link Economics to Common Core,” he said.
Board President Jim Hall said though it’s unlikely they will get rid of PowerSchool altogether, he did have much criticism on how it’s being rolled out into the school district, through no fault of the instructors.
“I talk a lot about paperwork vs. people work and these multiple, incompatible systems seem to be a prime example,” he said “In my simplistic view of things, standards should be addressed through lesson plans. It’s not clear to me why they have to be addressed a second time.”
With that, he suggested that the board work to study and identify the specific problems and see what they could do about them.
“We need to look good and hard at how to implement these multiple tools in these times of change,” he said.