With the Common Core Standards starting to find their ways into schools across the country, many teachers, staff, and administrators are learning, sharing and discussing how the new standards will impact their students and classrooms.
The Common Core is designed to provide schools across the United States with a uniform set of standards to better prepare our students for college and career. Having a common set of standards allows for conversations between states and for the first time, districts across the country knowing that all students are learning from the same core content.
One key component of the CCS that is embedded throughout are critical 21st Century Skills such as problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. I personally think embedding these skills throughout the CCS is fantastic. These skills are essential to our future leaders and workers.
However, I see one glaring issue. With the focus of these skills often comes the expectation of certain technology components and levels of access for students. The need to have modern tools available as needed to collaborate, research, share, and have authentic learning opportunities is essential. The issue is the fact that many of our schools across the country have a huge disparity in technological infrastructure, tools, and (most importantly) instructional support.
Students need equitable access to these resources and appropriate support to ensure appropriate understanding and comprehension of the 21st century skills. Without that level of access, how can we adequately prepare them for college or careers? Obviously the biggest obstacle is funding. With school districts across the country having to cut budgets in tough financial times, where do these funds come from? Government funds? We've seen this tried before, but without huge results. Local taxpayers? They are already pushed to the limit and tightening their belts at home.
My challenge is to IT leaders in the K-12 arena to find innovative ways to utilize existing funds and partner for future dollars. Ensuring the appropriate utilization of funds already available is the first step to receiving additional support. We can move forward in this area, but it is going to take a collaborative effort by all involved to ensure that the level of access across all of our schools is equitable.