On September 11, SCEE hosted our regular monthly webinar, "What's Next with Common Core Implementation." This webinar featured Linda Alder, Utah SCEE member and Utah's Coordinator of Educator Effectiveness and Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator at the Utah State Office of Education, along with two Coaches in CCSSO's Implementing the Common Core Standards (ICCS) collaborative, Gavin Payne and Doug Christensen, and two of SCEE's Educators-in-Residence, Holly Boffy and Terry Janicki. SCEE members who were not able to participate in the webinar live may find the recording and other resources HERE.
Concerned with overburdening teachers and leaders with too many disconnected initiatives, leaders in Utah understood recognized they needed to connect their efforts. With students as the guiding focus, they rearranged the organization of their SEA office in order to create the Teaching and Learning section, which included staff in curriculum as well as those working on educator quality.
They began their work by creating the Utah Effective Teaching Standards (based on InTASC) which refer to the Utah Core. They identified the most important teaching standards, convened a committee that created the Utah teaching standards around these, then turned to their curriculum coordinators to make sure that their teaching standards aligned with the Utah Core.
The use of the image of an Aspen grove, pictured here, is very intentional because it represents a guiding metaphor for Utah's work. Diana stated that they talk a lot about student growth in Utah which is represented through the image of an Aspen tree. Something that she's learned in her adulthood is that an Aspen grove shares the same root system. In Utah, they regard each student and their individual growth as part of an Aspen grove that is supported by the intertwining root system that gives them both the content and high quality instruction they need to survive and thrive, which is how they define effective teaching. Effective teachers and school leaders are necessary for a robust root system.
Therefore, the intent is for the Utah Core and the Utah Effective Teaching Standards to provide teachers with the content and pedagogical approaches needed to successfully implement the Common Core and provide the kind and level of feedback to teachers and leaders to positively improve practice. The goal is to successfully align the teaching standards to the Utah Core in ways that help teachers and leaders to see these as part of the same project.
In addition, Utah's theory of action goes beyond the Utah Core and Utah Effective Teaching Standards to also address human capitol, professional learning, and preparation programs. Human capital includes changing licensing requirements and induction/mentoring programs and processes to ensure that teachers new to the classroom and new leaders receive the support needed for them to grow into their positions. The Utah Department of Education also is working more closely with preparation programs to ensure that they are aligning their revised educator evaluation system with preparation program goals and expectations. Throughout these efforts, Utah has offered summer academies and other professional development opportunities throughout the year to help educators deepen their understanding of the Utah Core and teaching standards.
Although Utah and other states clearly are making great progress in integrating their work on Common Core implementation and educator effectiveness, there is still much to learn. Linda and Diana noted they need to do more to incorporate principals, who have the dual responsibility of leading the vision for this work in their buildings while also evaluating teachers for their practice. They invited states to share what you have done to engage principals in Common Core implementation and educator effectiveness reforms.
A live chat with Linda, Diana, Doug, Terry, and Holly followed the webinar; you may access the transcript HERE.