NNU education graduates exceed the standard
by Dr. Jennifer Hill, NNU Education Faculty
Mention the term “Common Core Standards” in any social circle and just about everyone seems to have an opinion. So what exactly are education standards, how did we get the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and what role do they play in the educator preparation program at NNU?
As a starting place, it is important to recognize standards are simply learning goals which describe what students should know, understand, and be able to do in different subjects and at different grade levels. Standards are identified targets, but they are not specific curriculum.
In the 1990’s, many different states across the country started developing their own standards for students in grades k-12. Twenty years later, in a cooperative effort by state leaders from 48 states, the Common Core State Standards were developed through the work of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Initially, 46 states and the District of Columbia adopted the standards either verbatim or with modifications between 2010-12.
So what does all of this mean for the next generation of teachers? At NNU, our education department’s goal is to prepare teacher candidates who are Called to Serve, Open to Change, Responsive to All, and Empowered to Succeed. Being “Open to Change” in part means constantly updating knowledge and skills to keep what is best for the K-12 student at the center of what happens in the classroom.
The standards movement in education is not going away, but it may take different shapes and forms over time. Our mission is to prepare future teachers for whatever they may face in a changing educational climate—whether that be in the Northwest, around the country, or throughout the world. We spend time in our classes unpacking standards so teacher education candidates feel confident in their ability to read, understand, and implement standards in a variety of different ways to meet the needs of diverse learners. This ensures they will be prepared for not only the Common Core, but whatever education, literacy, or content standards they may be required to teach to throughout their careers.
Danielle (Miller) Enberg, a 2016 summa cum laude graduate and now first-year teacher at Sage Valley Middle School in Caldwell, Idaho, reflected on her preparation in NNU’s teacher education program. “NNU teaches education majors in a holistic manner. They teach you to plan for all aspects of education, such as connecting with students, communicating with parents, and setting up the physical layout of your classroom for the most successful and productive environment. I was incredibly prepared when I started student teaching because of this, and there were no scenarios that I encountered in student teaching that had not already been addressed inside the [university] classroom.”
The NNU educator preparation program is preparing teacher candidates with the skills that they will need to become experts in their fields. The Common Core has changed some of the details of lesson planning and alignment, but it has not changed the heart of teaching—transforming the lives of students through teaching, leading, mentoring, and relationship building.