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As an English educator and co-director of a National Writing Project site, I have had many conversations with colleagues and educators who are anxious about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being adopted in so many states throughout the nation. The anxiety comes in many forms, ranging from "What do the CCSS mean for what and how I have to teach?" to "What does the drafting and implementation processes of the CCSS suggest for how people view me as a professional?" to "Are the CCSS really any good?" and so on. As I listen to all the people I work with - preservice teachers, experienced teachers, teacher educators, curriculum coordinators, writing project directors and fellows - I keep returning to one major issue that I think is behind a lot of the concern. More specifically, I continue to wonder how educators actually use and develop policy documents (e.g., standards) in their day-to-day work. The assumption seems to be that teachers read the policies and then implement them; however, any teacher who has worked with standards documents knows that this process isn't quite as clear-cut as the above assumption. It is this gap between how assumptions about educators use policy documents and how teachers actually use those policy documents. I sense this is the source for a lot of the anxiety I hear in the voices of the many educators I respect and work with.

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This document was originally published by Michigan Council of Teachers of English in Language Arts Journal of Michigan. Copyright restrictions may apply.