The teacher-student connection doesn’t form in a vacuum; it forms over a task, a struggle, a goal—and the tougher and more important the goal, the stronger the bond. Strong bonds don’t form over easy tasks. We believe that the first step in forming a strong teacher-student bond is backing high academic standards. High standards require knowledge and skills tied to the ability to do well in the world—analyzing issues, building arguments, hosting debates, and solving problems. The aim is not to score high on a test; it’s to succeed in life.
Ensuring all students are prepared to succeed in college and career is at the heart of the Common Core State Standards. As teachers work hard to find ways to help all students reach these expectations, we’re working to ensure that there are high-quality instructional materials available that have been developed by teachers for teachers.
The Common Core State Standards set clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts. We believe that the Common Core provides teachers with a platform for innovation. Consistent standards allow teachers to create a community where they can connect with each other, learn from each other, share with each other, and improve their practice with each other.
The future is about establishing high and consistent standards and helping teachers find ever more creative ways to meet them. Our investments are anchored by two collaboratives—the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and the Math Design Collaborative (MDC)—that focus on designing high-quality tools to support literacy and math instruction.
And since nobody knows teaching like teachers, the collective effort relied on teacher involvement and feedback to ensure the tools are reflective of the challenges faced in the classroom. The tools are designed to be simple, flexible, and allow teachers to maintain creative license in how and what they teach. And they are helping teachers bring the Common Core to life.
Research confirms these tools are improving teaching practice and resulting in measurable gains in student learning. Teachers who are using these tools say that their kids are doing better work against higher standards, and most agree that they improve instruction. Importantly, we are already seeing an impact on student success. A study of Kentucky classrooms using the LDC tools found that students gained 2.2 months of reading achievement compared to similar students in classrooms not using LDC. With MDC, students gained 4.6 months of achievement.
Starting with small bands of expert practitioners, LDC and MDC have grown to reach teachers across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
By defining high college and career ready standards, teachers, students, and parents are able to be on the same page. Teachers are less restricted and free to find the methods that work best for them and their students. You let them put together creative, relevant projects that excite and motivate students.
This leads to one of the most important changes underway in schools now—teachers helping teachers discover and use powerful new curriculum supports to help their students learn.