Understand the challenges schools face and the benefits they can reap.

Two studentsAnyone with a degree in education is more than familiar with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. It has been the largest attempt the U.S. has made at implementing a set of grade-specific educational standards designed to help ensure the nation’s youth are career and college ready. Common Core has called for students to apply new strategies to their learning and it has also called for educators—especially those with teacher licensure—to undergo a great deal of preparation in order to properly instruct their students.

To help ensure schools are held accountable, the Every Student Succeeds Act (and its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act) requires that children in grades 3–12 take part in annual statewide testing. Having the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in place brought about the need for new state assessments. Answering that call, the federal government partnered with two organizations to create new Common Core-aligned tests for math and English language arts.

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These computer-based tests are firmly rooted in the Common Core Learning Standards and college and career readiness. The interactive questions help determine the degree to which students have mastered the education basics, as well as CCSS skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and analyzing sources to write arguments and informational essays.

Initially, states expect their test scores to be lower as they continue to get used to the new Common Core standards and assessments. However, on the plus side, the new assessments will give schools a better idea of where students are in terms of college and career readiness so that they can adjust their instruction as needed. Of course the downside is that state accountability tests have been linked to consequences for students, teachers, schools, districts, and states, so a sharp drop in scores is certainly not welcomed.

The new Common Core assessments have the ability to:*

  • Measure instructional readiness and the growth of each student, according to CCSS.
  • Compare and predict student achievement and growth over time.
  • Predict college readiness for students in 5th grade or above.
  • Tie data directly to instructional practices.
  • Identify the professional development needs of educators.

Walden University offers an online BS in Elementary Education that is rich in assessment preparation, including that of CCSS. In fact, as part of the curriculum, teacher candidates plan a unit of lessons, instruct and assess students, and then reflect on the process. This online bachelor’s degree program, which can lead to teacher licensure, focuses on supporting and cultivating teacher candidates who are passionate, resilient, caring, innovative, and professional. If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of elementary school children, pursue your passion with a BS in Elementary Education from Walden University.

*Northwest Evaluation Association, Common Core Assessments That Help Kids Learn, on the Internet at www.nwea.org/assessments/map/common-core-map.

Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.

Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or www.alsde.edu to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.

Prospective Washington state students are advised to contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction at 1-360-725-6275 or prof.educ@k12.wa.us to determine whether Walden’s programs in the field of education are approved for teacher certification or endorsements in Washington state. Additionally, teachers are advised to contact their individual school district as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.

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