Massachusetts is a leader in its professional development support and implementation of College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS), says Meredith Liben, Director of the English Language Arts and Literacy Team at Student Achievement Partners. Keynote speaker, Liben praised the Massachusetts adult education system at the conference dedicated to CCRS and organized by the SABES PD Coordinating Center at World Education for the third year in a row.
Liben called CCRS an equity issue in that all students deserve to have access to complex text. Discussing is the way humans naturally arrive at understanding, but deepening one’s understanding of the world through reading and writing is not natural and is hard work for adult learners and their teachers. But the alternative of not doing so is not acceptable because it implies setting lower standards for adult learners.
Likening the standards to a mountain summit and teaching to them the work of building the trails to the summit, Liben says, “I worry about the standards becoming the only thing. The standards are a means to an important end—we need to remember it’s getting the students to the top that matters. If the slope is too steep we have to know how to cut out switchbacks into the trail.” Like a mountain summit, the standards demand a singular focus on what matters the most. Less is more.
Liben honed in on the central CCRS idea of evidence. Educators know that you should be able to provide evidence for your opinions. Employers and colleges demand evidence of skills. Adult learners need evidence that reading at this more complex level matters, that it is relevant to their lives. Linked to evidence is the ability to ask good questions.
Thank you Meredith Liben for your words of wisdom. Kudos to the World Education SABES team for organizing a successful conference that engages practitioners to roll up their sleeves and stay with a topic!