Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Iowa Core & Alignment

Alignment....an Iowa Core outcome long forgotten or something we think about but just don't always take the time to revisit?  Recently, I have had an influx of questions about I-CAT and thought the topic warranted some "air time".
I've always been a firm believer in the power of alignment and haven't given up hope that our schools feel the same way.  To no one's fault, our attention has been pulled in millions of other directions and the time and attention we've given to alignment has been minimal.  
In 2010, legislation defined full implementation of the Iowa Core as "accomplished when the school or district is able to provide evidence that an ongoing process is in place to ensure that each and every student is learning the Iowa Core standards for ELA and Mathematics and the Essential Concepts and Skills of Science, Social Studies and 21st Century Skills.  A school that has fully implemented the Iowa Core is engaged in an ongoing process of data gathering and analysis, decision making, identifying actions, and assessing impact around alignment and professional development focused on content, instruction, and assessment.  The school is fully engaged in a continuous improvement process that specifically targets improved student learning and performance."
The rationale and importance of this work was further captured with; "If district leaders (administrators, teachers, and the school board) and other educators monitor and increase the degree of alignment among the intended, enacted, and assessed curriculum, then the quality of instruction will improve and student learning and performance will increase."  
SO....that leaves me wondering....
  • How are our schools collecting that evidence of an ongoing process that is in place to ensure that each and every student is learning?  Is  I-CAT the tool of choice in collecting this evidence?  What other evidence have we collected?
  • Are our school increasing the degree of alignment to near 100%?  Do we know where they started and to what extent their alignment has improved? 
  • What actions have been taken to ensure that teachers are using this data to make decisions regarding what students need to know, with what is happening in the classrooms, and how students are being assessed?
  • How do we know whether teachers "know" the standards and have aligned their instruction and assessment accordingly?

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