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'Pause' on Common Core leaves teachers in limbo

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A legislative decision to pause the rollout of new academic standards is leaving many Indiana teachers in limbo, wondering if they can implement new lesson plans they've spent more than two years creating to meet the standards.

The standards known as Common Core were developed by a national group of state school officials and have been adopted by 45 states. They emphasize students' analytical reading and writing skills in all subjects.

Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 and is already using the standards in its kindergarten and first-grade classes. The state had planned to use them in all grades starting in the 2014-15 school year.

But lawmakers voted last month to delay full implementation to allow time to study the potential costs of implementing or abandoning the standards and hold public meetings.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who signed that bill into law on Saturday, said in a statement that the law "hits the pause button on Common Core so Hoosiers can thoroughly evaluate which standards will best serve the interests of our kids."

The legislative measure has left many teachers uncertain how to proceed, Greenwood director of secondary education Rick Ahlgrim told the Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/13fy4Kg ).

"There's no such thing as a pause. It's like slamming on the brakes real, real hard," Ahlgrim said.

Ahlgrim said math teachers don't know whether the lessons they've created, which include more word problems requiring students to explain why an answer isn't correct, can still be used.

Whiteland Community High School interim principal John Schilawski said he is worried that switching from one set of standards to another will confuse younger students learning to read. The Common Core-based lessons used in kindergarten and first grade are based heavily on nonfiction works so that children can start learning how to read and think analytically.

"Education is a constant, ongoing process. To make sudden starts and stops to things always has a rippling effect. Somewhere, some child or group of children will feel the effect of uncertainty that's being caused by legislative indecision," Schilawski said.

Common Core requires teachers to include reading and writing in their lessons and assignments, even in courses such as math and science that typically haven't asked students to write essays detailing their answers.

Critics maintain that Indiana's own school standards were better and that adoption of the Common Core has cost the state control over its education expectations.

Some also worry that the standards are making math courses too complicated and will cause students' scores to drop, while others are concerned that the emphasis on analytical reading will mean students spend less time reading classic works of fiction. But supporters say the standards teach students to think critically and to apply what's learned in one subject to another area.

Ahlgrim said dropping the Common Core standards would cost schools the ability to collaborate with others around the country and could make it difficult to find current textbooks and other teaching materials.

"It'll just be Indiana with our own standards. And I don't know why we would want to be isolated like that," he said.

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  • Diane Ravitch vs AP
    The AP is simply flat out wrong in writing: "The standards known as Common Core were developed by a national group of state school officials ...." Diane Ravitch, a titan in the education field, wrote in the 2-26-2013 Washington Post: ".....President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true. They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states. In fact, it was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. Federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but in this case the Department figured out a clever way to evade the letter of the law. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia signed on, not because the Common Core standards were better than their own, but because they wanted a share of the federal cash. In some cases, the Common Core standards really were better than the state standards, but in Massachusetts, for example, the state standards were superior and well tested but were ditched anyway and replaced with the Common Core. The former Texas state commissioner of education, Robert Scott, has stated for the record that he was urged to adopt the Common Core standards before they were written...."
  • A Necessary Step
    I am appalled at how often "educators" defend the common core when there is absolutely no proof that the standards benefit our children, quite the opposite actually since educators responsible for auditing the standards state that they are no good. In the meantime, my first grade daughter is bringing home Math homework that she could do when she was 3. How does this make our children more able to compete in a global market? Secondly, the comment at the end regarding why we would want to separate ourselves is uninformed at best. If every school moves to a nationalized curriculum (one that is copyrighted and cannot be changed such is the case with Core) how exactly does it matter if schools collaborate? The Core claims it won’t limit or control our curriculum as it is pushing us towards a privately controlled curriculum. How can it be both? At least with Indiana standards (proven ones) rather than Core, teachers and parents are able to affect change to the curriculum and can assist in choosing texts. Lastly, it is one thing to encourage kids to think critically and another thing entirely to abandon teaching them process in favor of it. How can a child tell you why something is wrong when they haven't been forced to repeat the effort long enough to memorize the process? How can you teach a child to understand why 2+2 is not 5 when they haven't focused on the basics of getting 4? Common Core is out…it never should have been in. We were forced to take it and as informed parents WE DON’T WANT IT. We made that abundantly clear when we tossed Tony out on his lobbying butt. I want teachers to have the power to TEACH my child, not to PREPARE her for a test.
  • BRAVO!!
    Excellent news! Next step: make it permanent . Commie corp must go.

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