Utica teacher chosen for NEA’s State Network of Educators on CCSS

Cassandra Joss, a kindergarten teacher at Utica’s Burr Elementary School, has been chosen by NEA to participate in its State Network of Educators (SNE). As part of the Network, she will be helping teachers in Michigan and across the country prepare for Common Core.

“Common Core is a hot button issue right now for teachers—whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not. I want to be proactive and make sure teachers have a say in how it is implemented,” Joss said.

The SNE is comprised of 60 to 150 K-12 teachers and higher education faculty per state with expertise in Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math, ELA, science and social studies. Teachers and faculty in general education, gifted and talented, ELL, and those working with students with disabilities are also a part of each state network.

Joss and other candidates chosen for the SNE will help populate the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Digital Library by developing and reviewing CCSS resources that meet established Quality Criteria. Teachers from across the country will be able to collaborate and share information about CCSS, Smarter Balanced and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) through the Library. SNE members will also be working with State Leadership Teams and NEA and AFT Teacher Ambassadors to make sure teachers across the country are prepared to implement CCSS and administer student assessments.

“I strongly believe teachers need to be ready to be in charge of Common Core. Common Core should not be in charge of teachers,” Cassandra said.

Joss will receive training on how to review and submit appropriate resources. After her training, she will be required to review three resources and also submit one resource for the Digital Library. 

Cassandra has already been incorporating CCSS into her kindergarten math and ELA lessons. Several of her lessons have already been published on NEA’s GPS network in “Better Lessons.”  

“I see firsthand how students are responding to Common Core. Even as kindergarteners, my students can explain how they got to an understanding that five plus five equals ten. They’re able to verbalize their knowledge—not just repeat something they memorized,” Cassandra said.

In addition to her new appointment to SNE, Joss also works with NEA’s Great Public Schools Community program as a coordinator and is an NEA Master Teacher. In Utica, she serves on the district’s Curriculum Leadership Council which advises the school board on matters of curriculum.

A grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to Smarter Balanced and the (PARCC) is being used to help NEA and AFT develop and implement CCSS. The money is being used for projects like SNE to provide resources, training, lesson plans, and field testing on CCSS.