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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Grant Allows UCM Faculty to Share Best Practices Related to Common Core

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 1, 2014) – Faculty members in the University of Central Missouri’s College of Education have an opportunity to share their knowledge about teaching Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on a national level in partnership with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

 UCM is serving as a primary partner with ACTE to participate in a multi-network effort to help teachers across the country better connect to share instructional best practices and strategies to implement CCSS. This initiative is made possible by grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

ACTE is the nation’s largest not-for profit association in the United States committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.  It represents Career and Technical Education professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others at all levels of education. Adopted by at least 43 states, the Common Core State Standards are focused on student success. They provide a set of learning goals which outline what students in grades kindergarten through 12 should be able to do in areas of mathematics and English language arts/literacy by the time they finish each grade.

Grant funding from the Gates Foundation will help ACTE build a national online teacher practice network titled “CORE Community.” The CORE Community’s focus will be on supporting the implementation of CCSS strategies that are aligned with the unique roles and abilities of CTE professionals.

“We are thrilled to receive this Teacher Practice Network Grant from the Gates Foundation,” said ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson. “Teachers are asking for more support in the classroom to meet state and local standards. With support from our partners, the CORE Community will help ACTE to answer that call and build a stronger network of CTE educators nationwide, all focused on improving the quality of CTE instruction and improving collaboration across the curriculum.”

Mike Wright, dean of UCM’s College of Education, said two faculty members, Michelle Conrad, assistant professor of college student personal administration, and Larae Watkins, assistant professor of career and technology education, are working closely with ACTE.  They will help create content for the online program, and will share with educators on a national scale best practices related to CCSS. This is a topic they have already discussed with many Missouri educators and others who have an interest in CCSS.

“We are very excited to join ACTE with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to strengthen CTE teachers’ ability to address essential learning standards,” Wright said. “UCM, as part of its institutional mission, has a long history of serving CTE teachers and students. This is a tremendous opportunity for the CTE community to develop online collaborative learning communities, and we are pleased to be part of this ground-breaking work.”

According to Conrad, with Wright’s support, the UCM College of Education previously provided funding for her and Watkins to explore how Career and Technical Education fits into CCSS, and what CTE teachers need to successfully implement these standards in their classrooms.

“Basically, we brought together a group of teachers to explore that question,” Conrad said. She noted in 2011 a cross-curricular group of Missouri educators that included English and mathematics teachers at the middle school and high school level, as well as CTE educators in areas such as agriculture, business and marketing, health sciences, culinary arts, and Project Lead the Way came together for two days at UCM to participate in a practical exploration of the math and English Common Core State Standards.

“We asked them if you had to leave here today and teach the Common Core tomorrow, what tools would you want in your tool box? Based on what they told us, we developed a professional development session called ‘Concentrating on Reality Education,’ which is basically to help CTE teachers integrate academic standards into their curriculum,” Conrad said. “We’ve been conducting the professional development workshop around the state for about two years. We were invited presenters at ACTE national conferences, as well as guest speakers on a webinar with ACTE and America’s Promise titled, ‘Show Me! How Missouri’s Integration of the CCSS and CTE can Work Across the Country.’” 

The CCSS content used in professional development workshops led by Conrad and Watkins will be incorporated into online modules to benefit CTE teachers nationwide. Both UCM faculty members also will provide user support through the university’s Missouri Center for Career Education.

“I thought we had a good proposal,” Conrad said. “It’s exciting when you put hard work into something and other people can see the benefits of it for other teachers.”    

Other ACTE partners in this initiative include the Association for Career and Technical Research, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium and National Center for Literacy Education.

Organizations that are part of Teacher Practice Networks include the following: The Achievement Network, ASCD, Center for Teaching Quality, Constitutional Rights Foundation, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, International Society for Technology in Education, KnowledgeWorks

Foundation, National Center for Family Literacy, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, National Math and Science Initiative, National Writing Project and New Visions for Public Schools.

Information about the project, including how CTE teachers can participate in the CORE Community, will be published on as it becomes available.