Strategy vs. Tactics and the ‘Shift’ to Common Core

Strategies in education are the large scale general plans used to achieve goals. Logistical examples are the length of day and the required seat time. Curricular examples are framework standards, vertical alignment, and lesson plans.

Tactics in education are the specific tools, techniques and actions that individuals use to accomplish certain strategies. Examples are lesson activities, assessments, classroom rules, and rewards/punishment.

Old paradigm-

With LEA and state goals being to have students score Proficient or Advanced on End-of-Course assessments and/or receive a high school diploma, the strategies have been devised with the idea that more is better – more time, more content, more assessment means more learning. Teachers have adjusted their classroom tactics to these types of strategies to cover a breadth content. These tactics include: haste, shortcuts, disregard of student interest, external reward for student cooperation, rote learning and relying upon outside curriculum developers that advertise a ‘ready-to-go’, ‘easy-to-teach’, one-size-fits-all’, ‘teacher-friendly’ package.


With student goals being to earn an ‘A’ or a high ACT score for college placement and career, strategies have been devised with the idea to trudge through school. Learning has become a ‘checklist’ of things to do before getting to their idle time or entertainment. Students have adjusted their tactics to fit a regimented, stop-and-go learning progression that includes learning what each teacher wants and then learning the most effortless way to achieve that. These tactics include: fact spewing, teacher pleasing, various levels of cheating, and sterilized responses to standardised questioning. Furthermore, students who do not know how to use these tactics use others, such as rebellion, retreat or indifference and they have no good strategy for future success.


New Paradigm-

National, state and LEA goals are changing. Now they are to create college and career ready students that are lifelong learners. Goals have changed because the world has changed. The information age has made the learning of facts difficult because the vast amount of information is increasing at an increasing rate. The adult worker of the future must be a thinker that knows how to react well to new information by questioning, categorizing, evaluating, valuing and prioritizing it so that it does not overwhelm. The strategy to achieve this is to make students independent and effective readers and writers so that they can understand and communicate up and down the alignment of multiple education and career paths. Teacher tactics are now being devised so that the teacher is no longer in the way of the student. Teachers are becoming models of independent learning and supporters of students through their struggle to gain this independence. One key tactic for this is developing a student’s ability to Actively Read Complex Text.




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