It is no exaggeration to say that K – 12 education’s highest priority and greatest unmet need is building the professional capacity of its teachers. More rigorous standards, represented by Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and others; internationally-normed assessments; a real commitment to college for all; high-stakes testing; the pressures imposed by schooling options and choice; overhauled teacher evaluation systems – what all of these policy moves have in common is that they demand higher professional performance from K – 12 teachers.
But there is a widespread consensus within the education community that the provisions for expanding the professional skill sets of educators, and for supporting their transition to this new high-demand environment, have been vastly inadequate. ‘Implementation’ is now the crux of the matter. Education leaders and administrators are now recognizing that the success or failure of raised standards and ambitious objectives will be determined by whether they have helped their teachers build capacity to implement with effectiveness and confidence more rigorous, more college-directed instruction.
Argument-Centered Education is in the capacity-building business. We work to ensure that a school, or a network, or a district can meet its academic objectives by expanding teachers’ professional skillset and approach. We work with teachers directly, closely, collaboratively, in professional relationships that result in their own heightened professional satisfaction and effectiveness, and their classrooms attaining more higher-order and college-directed learning for all students.
Argument-Centered Education enhances the instructional impact and professional morale of its partner-educators. It does this by transferring professional capacity and expertise to K – 12 teachers to become masterful at teaching their content areas through structured argumentation activities and debating formats.
In particular, few K – 12 educators are fully comfortable with the elevation of argument from evidence present throughout the move to college-readying education practices. Few have had the academic training or experience to deploy structured argumentation activities or debating formats in their classrooms, to build them into familiar procedures and routines. Argument-Centered Education upgrades these educators’ capacities and skill sets.
For those educators with more experience using argumentation and debating in their classrooms, ACE functions as a high-end collaborative partner to help them continue to achieve professional growth — providing expert feedback, refining their technique, and showing them a range of resources and strategies that can strengthen their ability to be educator-leaders in their schools and districts. Differentiation is as important in teacher training and capacity building as it is in student instruction.