Archive for Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kansas joins movement toward national education standards

October 24, 2010


Kansas education officials now have joined 37 other states in adopting national proficiency standards for reading and math.

And science could be next.

The movement toward national standards — the Kansas State Board of Education joined the program earlier this month — comes with plenty of advantages, said Rick Doll, superintendent of the Lawrence school district.

Among them is snuffing the likelihood of political flare-ups, such as the off-and-on debate over whether Kansas should de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in public schools.

“What we teach in school should not be dependent on the political leanings of a governing body,” Doll said. “With this, there’s less chance of that happening.”

While each local school district still controls its respective curriculum, the state uses assessments and other standardized tests to set expectations for all students to achieve. Because the state now has agreed to accept national standards for reading and math, each district soon will be working toward educating its students to meet the new standards.

The standards, known as Common Core Standards, are devised through a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Kansas is the 38th state to join the program, designed to establish common expectations for students preparing for college or pursuit of a career.

Among other states already signed on are California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Ohio, along with Kansas neighbors Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri.

Having common standards will help ensure that students coming into Kansas from participating states will arrive having worked toward the same standards in education as their new classmates, said Janet Waugh, chairwoman of the Kansas State Board of Education.

And once the folks behind Common Core Standards turn their attention to science and social studies, she said, chances will be improved that evolution will remain a small-yet-important portion of everyone’s educational expectations.

‘Mainstream’ approach

“They will use experts from every field, plus a lot of other people, to write the standards,” said Waugh, a Democrat whose district represents eastern Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and all of Jefferson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. “I think it will reflect the mainstream opinion of what the standards should be — ‘mainstream’ would be the mainstream science community, the mainstream history community and the mainstream social studies community. That’s mainstream.

“To me, science, history or government should not be based on historical opinion. They should be based on scientific or historical fact.”

Deciding just where that scientific fact resides has been a political battleground during the past dozen years, at least at the state level in Kansas. Back in 1999, during Waugh’s first year on the state board of education, a majority of members voted to add the teaching of creationism to the state’s science standards.

Two years later, however, voters had elected enough new board members to join Waugh and others in eliminating creationism from the standards.

The issue flared up again a few years ago, this time with proponents of “intelligent design” being elected to the board. A majority soon voted to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in schools, a move that — again — would be overturned after the next board election.

Waugh concedes that while political discussion continues, the move toward common standards should help focus the board’s energy on other issues: how to improve student achievement, and ways to gets students ready for success beyond the classroom.

“Evolution — that’s what we’re known for,” Waugh said. “That’s the one question we’re always asked: ‘What’s your position on evolution? What’s your position on science?’

“The politics need to be out of it. We need to focus on teaching all kids at high levels, and make sure they’re prepared, when they graduate, for a career or post-secondary education — whatever they desire. That’s what we need to focus on.”

Balanced effort

The Core Common Standards should help, Doll said. And it’s important to remember that such standards will not be the end of the discussion.

Each state adopting the core standards may opt to add content to the standards, expanding them by as much as 15 percent. Such additional standards would be just that — additional — and come on top of the national expectations for proficiency agreed to by other participating states.

Doll is confident that the core standards will help Kansas both maintain and improve its strong standing in education, all while moving closer to avoiding the political discussions that might get in the way.

“You have to have everybody at the table,” Doll said, of efforts to establish standards. “All points of view should be expressed. Everybody should be at the table, but the table should be balanced.

“With national common standards, it’s (easier to have) the ability to balance standards.”


Paul R Getto 3 years, 5 months ago

No takers, huh? Don't ask me. I was an English major.......YOU do the math!


Paul R Getto 3 years, 5 months ago

The proposed new standards are similar to those used in Kansas, but more rigorous. For a look at the current standards, try Here's just one sample from the high school math section: Ninth and Tenth Grades Knowledge Base Indicators The student… 1. knows, explains, and uses equivalent representations for real numbers and algebraic expressions including integers, fractions, decimals, percents, ratios; rational number bases with integer exponents; rational numbers written in scientific notation; absolute value; time; and money (2.4.K1a) ($), e.g., –4/2 = (–2); a(-2) b(3) = b3/a2. 2. compares and orders real numbers and/or algebraic expressions and explains the relative magnitude between them (2.4.K1a) ($), e.g., will (5n)2 always, sometimes, or never be larger than 5n? The student might respond with (5n)2 is greater than 5n if n > 1 and (5n)2 is smaller than 5 if o < n < 1............. =====Just for fun, download a few and try them out on your friends who think schools don't teach anything!


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 5 months ago

Water down the requirements. And even then the top students will be the new immigrants, i.e. asians, hindus, latinos, muslims. They will get to the top of the class even faster.


weeslicket 3 years, 5 months ago

way late on this again. seems to me all this discussion really hinges on what the national standards turn out to be.

will these standards turn out to be reasonable standards of performance? right now, we just do not know.


avetaysmom 3 years, 5 months ago

"Reading begins at home"

I have read to my children since they were babies, and I have one who reads very well, the other she struggles, get so sick of these people out thier who are so easy to point fingers at the parents when it comes to school learning problems, some kids just have that, a learning disability. I see how much my daughter struggles to keep up and these standardize tests are no help, she needs help finding the best way that fits her learning style, she goes to jr. high next year and I am hoping with extensive tutoring(which we cannot afford but do it)she will not fall inbetween the cracks as one of those kids that just skate by just enough.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

Thinking outside the box beginning at the Junior High Level = scheduling classes similar to college class schedules.

Let's consider that many parents are working and some may not have the background necessary to address a students subject matter. Let's take on this challenge.

The objective in fact is to empower the student, feed comprehension, improve testing based on learning and creating a less stressful environment yet more interesting and productive. Which of course prepares our students for the real world of higher education which could be Junior College,4 year college or Vo-Tech.

*School hours: 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM Eliminates public school traffic from the morning rush hour. If students need dropped off a bit early perhaps lab work,art projects,wood working or exercise could be scheduled.

Scheduled Exercise = power walk,swimming,cycling/elliptical or aerobics = energy generation

Is it necessary for USD 497 students to be doing class per se 5 days a week? How about 3 days for "class time" and two whole school days devoted to home work and exercise during the school week at school? Yes the the teaching staff would still be at school 5 days a week.

It would seem that parents could appreciate two homework days a week at school with access to the teaching staff. Teaching staff in fact puts in plenty of time after hours perhaps these two days would be helpful in that regard as well. Excellent use of school hours.

This approach introduces children to academic responsibility. Work ethic. Isn't this empowering the students?

This plan is assuming that parents and students would be in discussion about how "home work days" would be utilized. Parents then would review the homework days accomplishments. Parent/teacher meetings would provide other means by which to determine where the emphasis of study needs directed.

The school library would be open of course for research.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

Reading begins in the home. If Johnny cannot read what are the parents doing?

Once the national standards are in place how we get there might come up for discussion. Public schools are a best bang for the tax buck so why not make a few changes to maximize that tax buck. Most importantly provide a venue that allows our students to maximize their opportunities.

Empower the students! Empower the Instructors! WE can make anything work!


Liberty_One 3 years, 5 months ago

This is a move in the wrong direction. Schools should not teach what the federal government tells them to but what their customers demand. Oh that's right, schools don't have customers; they steal their money from the public and have their students forcibly brought to them.


Grayghost 3 years, 5 months ago

Federal participation is authorized in the Constitution under which Amendment or Article?


Centerville 3 years, 5 months ago

“What we teach in school should not be dependent on the political leanings of a governing body,” Doll said. “With this, there’s less chance of that happening.”

This from our supt of schools. And you may still be wondering why Johnny can't read.


TinkyWinky 3 years, 5 months ago

Standardized education is the tool of tyrants. The soviets were the first to enforce standardized education (indoctrination). Later, the Nazi's quickly picked up on national standards. Socialism has been eroding excellence in education for decades. Dumbing down education to gain conformity of the masses.

Say no to standardized education and testing.


Stuart Evans 3 years, 5 months ago

with national standards, the department of education, who's head is picked by the president, sets the standards. How could this be anything but politically motivated whims? national standards also give the parents a feeling of less control over what is being taught to their children.

Yes, I understand that a single set of standards would seem provide an easier baseline to judge how much kids are learning across the board, but this will be used to further indoctrinate our kids into nationalism.


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