Is This Simple Policy Decision the Biggest Reason for Kentucky’s Common Core Success?Success and the Common Core

By Dennis Pierce

As this American School Board Journal article reports, Kentucky’s implementation of the Common Core Standards has been marked so far by nearly universal buy-in that few other states have enjoyed.

In our last blog post, we revealed four key reasons for this support among stakeholders, but there’s one more reason that bears mentioning—and it just might be the most important explanation for the state’s early Common Core success.

Kentucky state leaders have been very careful in how they have structured their teacher evaluations, approaching these not as a punitive process, but as an opportunity for teachers to learn and grow professionally. Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, explains:

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t evaluate [teachers] negatively when they say, ‘I don’t know how.’ We’ve got to give them support rather than evaluate them, because who’s going to say ‘I don’t know how’ when they’re evaluated based on that answer?

Holliday adds: “We’ve got to have formative evaluation, where [teachers feel] comfortable talking to somebody in their school or across the district, [to say]: ‘I need some support here’—and they don’t feel threatened by that.”

Fostering an environment in which teachers feel comfortable to experiment in their classrooms, and to ask for the support they need—and where they don’t have to worry about these actions coming back to hurt them during the evaluation process—has been critical in garnering Kentucky teachers’ support of the Common Core. And that, in turn, has been instrumental to the state’s early Common Core success.

Contrast that approach with the approach taken in some other states, where teachers are wary of evaluations because these are largely used as punitive measures that could cost them their jobs, or a portion of their salaries, rather than as tools for constructive feedback.

What’s the environment around the Common Core in your school? What’s going on to help teachers, and what’s going on to hamper growth? Let me know in the comments below.



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