New standards to replace Common Core

The standards, called Common Core, seek to align schools throughout the country so high school graduates have the skills and knowledge they need to enter further education or a career, according to the initiative’s website. Forty-five states and Washington, D.C., had signed on to use the common standards, until Gov. Mike Pence signed the law this week that removed Indiana.

“I believe our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the state and local level,” Pence said when signing the bill.

Common Core sets standards for English language arts and math curricula. By adopting Common Core, states choose to integrate those standards, rather than developing their own, which is one of the primary arguments of elected leaders who supported leaving the program.

“Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said.

Although Indiana’s the first state to pull out of Common Core after committing to it in 2010, other states are weighing the decision. About 100 bills have been introduced this spring in legislatures nationwide to slow or stop the standards,
according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Indiana, having standards that aren’t aligned with other states could mean that many resources such as teaching materials and standardized tests offered by Common Core won’t be applicable to the state’s public schools, said Jan Bergeson, director of secondary education at Monroe County Community School Corporation.

“A lot of the resources created around the nation for support in classrooms will not fit our standards, Indiana’s standards,” Bergeson said. “We will need to select resources carefully to make sure they support our institutions.”

State-approved standards, Common Core or otherwise, are used by school districts to develop their courses.

Locally, MCCSC identifies the most important standards for students and prioritizes those in developing courses. There are too many standards to use them all in course development, Bergeson said.

“We shape courses around the standards we deem as being essential for students to learn,” Bergeson said. “Standards are key. They’re our foundation.”

Despite the decision to leave Common Core, the Indiana Department of Education is still going through a process to revise the state standards this spring.

Bergeson said the drafts of standards she’s seen have largely been in line with Common Core.

The final standards, which are being developed for “college and career readiness,” according to the Department of Education website, are scheduled for a vote in April, but Bergeson said she’s been told the final approval could be in the summer.

“We’ll adjust,” she said. “We’ll make it work. I think we’re just waiting to see what is determined.”

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