Education leaders state that students to be tested on Common Core English and math standards are receiving an education that is based on teaching, critical thinking engagement, and communication and collaboration. At Kent Innovation High School in West Michigan, those standards will soon be tested.
According to principal Kym Kimber, developing skills for English language arts and mathematics in preparation for college and working in a global economy are the common thread of the new standards.
For the first time, assessment on the COmmon Core State Standards will occur in Michigan this spring, as well as in 42 other states. .Many West Michigan districts began embedding the standards in 2011 in their curriculum, although there are varying opinions on the benefits of the changes in teaching standards.
The Michigan Department of Education adopted Common Core in 2010 surviving push back last school year.
“We started right away wrapping our projects around the new standards, so really our students don’t know any different,” said Kimber about the school that launched in 2011 as an incubator of new teaching ideas for the 20 Kent Intermediate School Districts, emphasizing project-based learning tied to real-world scenarios.
The standards outline what math and English skills students should know at each grade, and are designed to develop more critical thinking skills by challenging students to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts, not just regurgitate facts or plug in a formula.
“I have been immersed in Common Core since day one,” said Kent Innovation English teacher Elaine Shalla, who was certified in 2010. “The biggest shift with the Common Core is just the skills base and teaching the skills for students to be independent thinkers and collaborators.’’
The school of 360 students now serves students in grades nine to 12, after adding a grade each year.