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Improving Student Success Through Teacher Learning

As a company that focuses on raising the levels of academic rigor and performance in the classroom, we understand the importance of strengthening America’s teachers with deep content knowledge and continual support – especially with the rapid adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards. And while some people may not be able to see eye to eye over the Common Core, one report shows that there is a tremendous benefit from the Common Core, and it doesn’t involve just the students – it involves their teachers as well!
Released by the Center for American Progress, this report titled “Teacher Learning Through Assessment: How Student-Performance Assessments Can Support TeacherLearning” asserts that student success hinges on how well their teachers can instruct and show a “wide range of learners” how to digest and understand the critical academic skills that the Common Core promotes; therefore, it is important for educators to have professional development to hone their skills – but not the “drive-by” one-shot sessions, which the report found to have almost no effect on teacher and student achievement. Instead, teachers must participate in “professional-learning opportunities that can develop and improve the capacity of teachers to support more ambitious teaching.”

So, how does the Common Core relate to this need for better teacher learning? Because the Common Core itself could function as a form of professional development. If it were to implement “performance standards” that are integrated into the curriculum, it could actually train teachers to become better teachers through engaging with the assessments they would give to their students. This would create opportunities for teachers to be more focused in their grading process, thus increasing their understanding of the standards as well as their students’ abilities, and showing them in what areas they can improve.
According to the report, schools have already witnessed these positive changes in academic performance – for both teachers and students – across the nation thanks to performance assessments, and its authors strongly encourage that schools in states that adopt the Common Core should do the same. To do so, they propose the following measures to ensure success:

◾Ensure that the assessments are integrated into the learning system, and that performance tasks are a part of the assessments.

◾Be sure that the scoring system is “clear and explicit” for both teachers and students, and teachers should collaborate together when scoring the assessments.

◾Provide teachers with the chance to engage in analyzing their students’ work, and give them professional development opportunities that have a focus on assessments – such as NMSI’s Teacher Training!
The report closes by saying “continued use of high-quality standards and performance assessments over time has been shown to improve teaching and learning,” and we couldn’t agree more. Enabling teachers to be more hands-on and engaging in the learning process is what we’re all about. The key to fostering student success is equipping teachers with the tools and skills they need to excel in the classroom. It’s up to the teacher to use the tools and resources to practice the strategies learned.