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chalkbeat explains

Chalkbeat Explains

Common Core

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Common Core is a set of new learning standards that Indiana, like 45 other states and the District of Columbia, adopted with a goal of boost students’ academic skills. The standards, which outline what students should know by the end of each grade, emphasize critical thinking and evidence-based argument across math and literacy.

After early enthusiasm for the standards, Indiana in 2013 paused implementation to allow for a new round of public input. In 2014, the Indiana State Board of Education will take a new vote to decide whether to reaffirm its commitment to Common Core or drop the standards so the state can create its own.

Indiana adopted Common Core standards in 2011 with almost no opposition. Criticism of the move remained mild until 2013. The 2012 election produced a new Gov. Mike Pence and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz expressed reservation, while some key legislative leaders changed from supporting Common Core to opposing it.

One group of critics argues that the Common Core standards are not as strong as Indiana’s prior standards. Among those that believe this is Sandra Stotsky, a University of Arkansas professor who helped write Indiana’s prior standards.

Another group of critics say that support for Common Core from the U.S. Department of Education—which has endorsed the standards and offered incentives for states to adopt them—suggests too much federal influence in the state’s education standards. Supporters say Common Core will lead to high school graduates that are better prepared for college and careers.

Some school districts have already implemented the Common Core for all grades. But the state’s recommended implementation schedule had only required Common Core standards through second grade as of 2013.

Districts that adopted Common Core early argue that college entrance tests like the SAT and ACT will follow the standards, too, and don’t want to risk leaving students unprepared.

THE BOTTOM LINE FOR:

The public will have to judge whether Common Core standards represent the knowledge and skills students should learn in public school. Questions remain, such as whether students should spend more time reading informational texts over classic literature. Some wonder whether Common Core takes the approach to learning math. One a more basic level, others have asked if national standards are appropriate at all.

KEY FACTS

  • Wildly conflicting opinion surveys have estimated as little as 32 percent or as much as 68 percent of Hoosiers favor adoption of Common Core standards.
  • Indiana currently spends $34.3 million on state tests.
  • A state study estimates Indiana could save at least $1.1 million by using Common Core exams created by other states as its state exam.