Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kansas officials looking at common education standards

September 7, 2010


— Education officials in almost all states, including those in Kansas, are working on what are called Common Core State Standards, which will make the teaching of English and math in public school classrooms nationwide more uniform.

Supporters say the standards are a common-sense way to approach education in a mobile society, one in which students must be prepared to face global competition and where parents and politicians are demanding improvements in the way schools are gauged and compared.

“If you teach a kid in Kansas to read, you assume if they go to Oklahoma they can still read,” said Tom Foster, director of standards and assessment with the Kansas Department of Education.

For example, under the math standards, a sixth-grader — regardless of what state he or she lives in — should understand ratios and proportional relationships; a third-grader who doesn’t know the meaning of a word should understand how to figure it out by the way it’s used in a sentence, or analyzing the word’s root and being able to look it up in a dictionary.

The State Board of Education will discuss the standards during its Sept. 14-15 meeting and may adopt them in October. Thirty-five states already have adopted the standards, and nearly all are expected to.

At a recent briefing on the issue, legislators raised some concerns.

“I see good things to this,” said Sen. Ruth Teichman, R-Stafford, but she added, “What happens to local control?”

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, who is vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, predicted that once most states adopt the standards, the next step will be development of a national test.

“What comes after that is where the rubber meets the road,” Vratil said.

States with high-performing students will fight for tougher tests, while low-performing states will go the other way so that their students won’t “look like dummies,” he said.

And once a national test is established, a national curriculum won’t be far behind, Vratil said, and that means local control over policies and funding will be diminished.

“You can’t just focus on the Common Core Standards. You have to look at where that will lead you and what is likely to occur,” he said.

But state education officials note the Common Core initiative was conducted at the state level, not the federal level. They say Kansas has been involved in developing the standards, and each state can add more standards for its own use.


Clevercowgirl 7 years, 9 months ago

Thank you for a well written, balanced article. Keep up the good work!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

"And once a national test is established, a national curriculum won’t be far behind, Vratil said, and that means local control over policies and funding will be diminished."

Considering how Kansas legislators are constantly failing to meet financial demands this national approach might be the better avenue.

Academic standards can also diminish without a constant source of tax dollars at a appropriate level to support demand.

Too many legislators are always throwing out that FEAR angle about local control. The fear should be how Kansas legislators do not finance our public school systems. In my opinion the majority of Kansas legislators harass the public education system.

anonyname 7 years, 9 months ago

Sen. Vratil is scared of a federal takeover, to which he thinks this only the prelude. From the website: "The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers." Developed by governors and heads of state education departments. If I can find that in 20 seconds, he should be capable of doing the same. Not that we should expect the vice chair of the Senate Education Committee to be aware of such things...

buddyshea 7 years, 9 months ago

jihadist has it wrong. It's no 80-85% of the CCSS that must be adopted. It's 100%. States can add on an ADDITIONAL 15% more. One question is, will this 15% be tested at alll? If not, they the CCSS and the national testing that goes along w/it will be the driver of education & curriculum in Kansas.

The national testing and loss of local control are the two things that the public should question.

Read this:

See the posted comments from an AL State Board member.

Also, read this: "Say good-bye to the MCAS" - Massachusetts

The public should be asking very detailed questions about the national test. Questions about potential CCSS science and history standards need to be asked as well. Where will parents go if they have concerns with the state standards?

The bottom line is that the CCSS math standards are better than most state standards, but they are not world class. (Example: You would think kids need to know the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction by 3rd grade, but the Common Core says 4th. Multiplication and division are at 6th grade.)

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