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NEA, AFT Partner To Build Common-Core Tools

WASHINGTON – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced on December 17, 2012 an expansion of its commitment to students and teachers, with an investment of $11 million over a three year period to engage teachers to develop the tools they need to help students meet the expectations of the new college and career-ready academic standards.

Known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), these new standards have been adopted by 45 states and are internationally benchmarked. The standards specifically outline the skills a student needs to master in order to be prepared to succeed in college and the workforce. The implementation of these standards will require significant changes in instructional practice for both literacy and math, creating the need for new tools and resources for all teachers.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is supporting Student Achievement Partners and NEA and AFT––which together represent more than five million teachers––to jointly design tools and digital applications to support teachers in their practice. The investment will reinforce the unions ongoing efforts to support teachers as they incorporate the major shifts required by the Common Core. The tools will be distributed at no cost by Student Achievement Partners––an organization central to the development of the standards. Teachers are by far the most critical in-school factor to improving student achievement, and Helmsley Charitable Trust is deepening its commitment to the success of teachers.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust currently invests in nationally significant issues in K-12 and postsecondary education. The Trust seeks to increase the number of American students who succeed in college and who are able to complete in the global, 21st-century marketplace. It sees helping teachers make this transition as critical to that goal. Among other interests, the Trust is investing in strategies to help realize the promise of the CCSS in the adopting states by supporting both knowledge and successful implementation of the standards.

“The Helmsley Trust applauds the critical role of teachers and their unions in the development and adoption of Common Core State Standards in dozens of states across the nation,” said Rich McKeon, Program Director of Education for the Helmsley Trust. “We are delighted that the unions are taking on this important role of developing tools that will help educators meet these standards.  Student Achievement Partners is an authority on the CCSS, and the Helmsley Trust is proud to support its joint work with NEA and AFT in ensuring that teachers are involved in the design and delivery of the highest quality CCSS implementation tools available.”

“NEA believes the Common Core State Standards will help promote flexible, rich instruction and sound assessments that support learning for students. We are pleased that the Helmsley Charitable Trust sees the value and opportunity for all students in Common Core and understands the importance of supporting teachers through the adjustment and transition,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

"The new rigorous Common Core State Standards represent a huge shift in teaching and learning-ensuring that students are able to think critically,  apply knowledge and meet the challenges of today's world," said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. "But teachers across the country say they are not receiving the time, tools and resources they need to master the new curriculum and make the instructional shifts necessary to make the standards work for teachers and kids. The AFT is excited to join this partnership to help ensure that teachers have access to and a voice in creating high-quality resources to help their students and their profession succeed."

“NEA believes the Common Core State Standards will help promote flexible, rich instruction and sound assessments that support learning for students. We are pleased that the Helmsley Charitable Trust sees the value and opportunity for all students in Common Core and understands the importance of supporting teachers through the adjustment and transition,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

“The Common Core State Standards are built on and must continue to be built on the voice of teachers–– teachers and their unions were central to the process of developing the standards and are critical to their success in practice. We have been deep in the work of implementing the Common Core State Standards and developing teacher advocates over the course of this past year, and now we need to engage teachers in developing tools that support their effective instruction in line with the shifts required by the Common Core,” said Jason Zimba, Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners. “The best tools are created by teachers for teachers. Together, we will not only create highly interactive, high quality digital tools but we will distribute them on a free platform to over five million teachers. The Helmsley Trust has been an ideal strategic partner in this effort, and with its substantial resources and clear focus on innovative and highly collaborative initiatives, we look forward to their continuing contributions on behalf of American students and teachers for many years to come.”

Click here to read Education Week's coverage of the initiative.