Banner Staff Writer
The 2013 Common Core Leadership Council is receiving a local touch after Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools, was appointed as a one-year Southeast representative.
According to Emily Barton, assistant commissioner of curriculum and instruction at Tennessee’s Department of Education, Ringstaff fit the bill.
“I was impressed with your insights, commitment to excellence and dedication to the students of Tennessee throughout the interview process,” Barton said.
Common Core is the current educational movement attempting to put the nation’s public schools on the same page. A total of 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education have adopted the standards, according to Common Core’s official website.
Implementation of Common Core standards began the 2012-13 school year among kindergarten through second grade. Next year, the standards for mathematics and English language arts will become effective third through eighth grade. High school will join the common core standards beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
Major changes under common core include application-based learning and online testing.
Application-based learning involves giving students the educational tools they need before presenting them with a problem. The traditional rote memory learning will take a back seat to the new teaching methods. Teachers and students alike will have a steep learning curve.
Ringstaff said he is prepared to help Tennessee, and especially the Southeast, handle the growing pains.
“When a committee at this level works, every participant has to throw it all out there,” Ringstaff said. “They have to analyze their strengths and weaknesses while playing devil’s advocate. You have to prepare for the worst.”
He has high hopes for this next year.
“I think it is going to be interesting and fun. People are going to be nervous, but I believe at the end of the day, Common Core is the way to go,” Ringstaff said.
The new Southeast representative has already been involved in one major educational overhaul. In the late 1990s, he worked in Virginia’s educational system when it switched to online testing.
He remembers what it took to make the transition.
“Virginia funded the infrastructure fully. They did the assessment and figured what it needed to go online for everyone in the state,” Ringstaff said. “Tennessee would have to do that [for the PARCC Assessment]. I see that being the biggest hurdle.”
Tennessee’s goal is for schools to shift from paper-and -pen curriculum assessments to online-testing by the 2014-15 school year. The assessment to be utilized will be PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Ringstaff has begun to look at the issue in earnest.
“Some of our school systems in the state are not technologically advanced, and it is going to be hard for them to be ready,” Ringstaff said. “They will need the state’s help.”
He is looking forward to making an impact while representing the Southeast.
“I want to be able to speak logically about the direction of Common Core in the state of Tennessee,” Ringstaff said. “I want to be able to make a difference as one of 13 members.”
“I want to add insight into where the mistakes were when we did this years ago in Virginia.”
“This is about what is right for students.”
An effective two-way network of communication with Southeastearn educators is needed, Ringstaff said.
“I will go to school boards, leadership meetings and present any questions, concerns or thoughts they have,” Ringstaff said. “I am more than happy to be the eyes and ears for Southeast Tennessee. We want to do this right.”
“We have a great group of representatives and I think they are ready to make a change.”